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S2 Ep5: "The most punitive justice system in the world"

How has Oklahoma become the world leader in mass incarceration? What historical and cultural factors have led us here, and how does this affect almost every aspect of our society? In this episode we talk with Ryan Gentzler, Director of Open Justice Oklahoma and author of “Between You and Me,” a powerful article in the newest Oklahoma Humanities magazine analyzing Oklahoma’s criminal justice system and offering possible solutions.

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Links to additional information about topics discussed in this episode:

Read BrainBox guest Ryan Gentzler's article, "Between You and Me," from the newest Oklahoma Humanities magazine issue.

Read about U.S. Senator Tom Cotton's (R-AR) opposition to criminal justice reform and his argument that the U.S. suffers from an "under-incarceration problem."

Our guest references this 2017 article from the Tulsa Voice, which discusses the effects of Oklahoma's criminal justice system on poor people and the impact of the "prosperity gospel" on the state's approach to crime and punishment.

Our guest discusses sociologist Bruce Western's study of the social and economic consequences of mass incarceration.  In his book Punishment and Inequality in America, Western contends that "imprisonment makes the disadvantaged literally invisible."


Read our guest's analysis of local justice reform within the Oklahoma City Police Department, in a study published by the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

About our guest:

Ryan Gentzler is the Director of Open Justice Oklahoma. For over two years, Ryan served as a Policy Analyst focused on criminal justice at Oklahoma Policy Institute, where he was responsible for research on topics including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College.

Find out more about Open Justice Oklahoma at openjustice.okpolicy.org