Freedom Oklahoma and the ACLU of Oklahoma Urge State, Local Leadership to Take Further Steps to Protect Resident

Freedom Oklahoma and the ACLU of Oklahoma released recommendations that the Oklahoma City government, State officials, and policymakers across Oklahoma must consider to achieve a fair and effective response to COVID-19. The recommendations stress the protection of vulnerable populations and transparency around decision making.

“We applaud the timely decisions that have been made around Oklahoma to close, cancel, or limit human interactions,” said Allie Shinn, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma. “Unfortunately, not enough has been done. In a time where every moment is crucial, and each response or lack thereof is of a critical and incredibly time-sensitive nature, our state and local governments must act swiftly, responsibly, and with careful regard to addressing this crisis in a way that ensures Oklahoma’s most vulnerable communities are protected.” 

From Oklahoma City’s municipal pre-trial detention release to Norman’s closure of public venues and beyond, we’ve seen Oklahoma officials begin to take bold action to mitigate this crisis, stepping in to save the lives of Oklahomans. If we work together as a state, these actions will have an impact that reaches far beyond any individual city or county limits. Together we are asking state, county, and municipal leadership across Oklahoma to take their actions a step further, ensuring more lives will be saved and making Oklahoma an example that other states can look to.

“As a state that prides ourselves on small government, now is the time to show how the state, county, and municipal governments can fill in the gaps of federal direction to provide urgent, science-based policy responses that address public health the protect the rights and liberties of the people of Oklahoma,” said Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the ACLU of Oklahoma. “Our incarceration crisis has always been a public health crisis, and there is no more appropriate time to urgently reduce the number of people in prisons and jails to make sure the state is responsibly caring for people who need to remain detained, along with staff, healthcare workers, and their families and communities. From pre-trial release to clemency and voting rights to decision transparency, we hope these letters allow for collaborative discussion about best practice changes we must implement to flatten the curve.”

Every level of Oklahoma government must take meaningful measures during this pandemic grounded in science and public health that are consistent with the need to protect the health, safety, and civil liberties of us all. At the same time, history teaches us that our government is most prone to committing abuses in times of crisis and forgetting populations already underserved. Local leadership should regularly reevaluate their actions to ensure they are effective, remain justified, and are properly employed.