Keaton Ross covers underserved communities for Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit investigative news outlet based in Oklahoma City. Ross is a spring 2020 graduate of Oklahoma Christian University where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Talon. (He majored in journalism and minored in political science.) In March 2020, Ross’ reporting on an admissions counselor who led a racist activity at an area high school was cited by several national news outlets, including The New York Times. As an intern at The Oklahoman in 2019, Ross covered topics ranging from the national impact of the state’s opioid trial to a 93-year-old man riding his bike across Oklahoma. In 2018, Ross interned with The Norman Transcript.
Beat: Prison conditions in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation, and its prisons have been shockingly overcrowded. As in other states, there are efforts to relax the tough sentences that sent so many nonviolent offenders to prisons over decades and offer more commutations to such offenders. But resistance is still strong among district attorneys and other tough-on-crime interest groups. In the short term, a portion of coverage concerns how the epidemic is affecting the incarcerated. But the reporter also focuses on what goes on inside prisons that is rarely, if ever disclosed, involving inmates and poorly paid, overworked corrections officers. And the reporter sheds light on how the resistance to criminal justice reform plays out. A focus of that part of the effort is on district attorneys. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all our reporters, who for now must work from home. In the future, this reporter will be based in our offices in Oklahoma City, but will also spend time at the State Capitol, where policy machinations opposing reforms often play out.