From the Desk of Sen. Jessica Garvin: October 14, 2021
As I previously mentioned, interim studies are in full force. Last week, the Senate Public Safety Committee had several interesting studies and I’d like to tell you about two of them.
One of the studies looked at the benefits of allowing incarcerated mothers to pump their milk and have it sent to their newborns’ caretakers. The committee heard from the Coalition for Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocated (COBA), the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC), and the Alabama Prison Birth Project on the importance of allowing incarcerated mothers to nurse for their baby’s first six months of life, how other states have implemented programs and how such programs could be implemented in Oklahoma. According to COBA, implementing such programs could significantly decrease health care costs and improve the state’s maternal and infant mortality rate.
The Alabama Prison Birth Project, one of the top pumping programs in the nation, said pumping programs are practical and easily implemented. They said they provide better mental health outcomes and hormonal regulation for the mother, resulting in better behavior; health cost savings for both the child and mother; increased likelihood of recruiting future breast feeders and an increased connection to children, leading to lower recidivism rates.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on implementing this type of program.
The committee also was updated on progress made on addressing the state’s backlog of sexual assault kit analysis by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the Office of the Attorney General. Sexual assault cases reported in Oklahoma has been increasing. In 2011, there were around 1,500 cases and that increased to 2,200 last year. In 2019, Senate Bill 967 was approved, directing the OSBI to develop a statewide tracking system for evidence collection kits, and requiring law enforcement to send rape kits for testing within 20 days of collection. Since that bill became law, nearly 3,000 pre-2019 kits have been tracked and analyzed along with nearly 4,300 post-2019, but there are still more than 2,700 kits in the backlog, which the OSBI estimates will take about 28 months to complete. The Legislature has made great strides to help get the backlog addressed, but we can never stop fighting for these victims.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the swearing-in of Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Dana Kuehn, the newest appointment to the Court by Governor Stitt. Justice Kuehn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Court, but through her speech, my eyes were opened to her sense of humor, deep and profound faith, and the incredible joy that she carries with her and brings into every room she enters. Justice Kuehn is clearly respected by her colleagues for her professionalism, her wisdom, and her understanding of the law; but underneath that fancy robe and title, Justice Kuehn is a humble, generous, kind, and compassionate woman who loves her family, respects her parents, invests in her community, and strives to live her life in the moment, while also striving to live her life by doing the next right thing. She makes the third woman to sit on the current Supreme Court, and former Oklahoma Lt. Governor Jari Askins informed me at the swearing-in ceremony that this is the first time in history that we’ve had this many women serving on the Oklahoma Supreme Court at one time.
In addition to the swearing-in, I was able to meet with a group of Oklahomans to discuss ways to improve the care we provide to individuals with disabilities; attended an educational meeting with Oklahoma Pharmacy Association members from Senate District 43 and Sen. Chris Kidd; spent lunch with Rep. Brad Boles, Rep. Marcus McEntire, Sen. Kidd and Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance members at the Red River Technology Center in Duncan; and listened to state agency staff and local business owners discuss the important projects and programs they have going on within Oklahoma to help grow our economy in Southwest Oklahoma.
If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. You can write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.
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