Current News


Monday, January 28, 2013

Oklahoma prisons: 99.2% filled

Oklahoma prisons: Situation normal, all filled up
Jan. 28th 2013
From: Tulsa World.

The Legislature needs to grant Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones the additional $66.7 million he is requesting for prison operations and staff retention for fiscal 2014.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

The same news elsewhere:

Oklahoma needs more prison beds, corrections director says
From: News OK


Law cited in growth
The inmate population growth is attributed to a state law that requires inmates convicted of certain violent crimes, including murder and manslaughter, to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole and inmates drawing longer sentences, he said.

The number of prisoners increased about 900 in the past year, Jones said. The agency was able the past couple of years to renovate buildings on prison grounds into bed space, but no spare buildings are available. The state has a growing backlog of inmates in county jails, Jones said. About 1,700 are in county jails now, up from 650 in 2000. Since 2003, the state consistently has been backed up by 1,000 inmates or more.
When county jails go over their capacity, they face fines and disciplinary action from the state Health Department.

Overcrowded jails can invoke the so-called 72-hour rule to get state prisoners transferred or scheduled to be moved in that time period.

Jones suggested lawmakers consider contracting with one of two empty 2,100-bed private prisons in the state, in Watonga and Hinton, and place prisoners there. County jails receive $27 a day to hold state prisoners; the state this year will pay about $22 million to the counties, Jones said. Placing the prisoners in one of the private prisons is estimated to cost $29 million.
Read more here:

Note from OK PW: We could ask ourselves how this is possible? And why do we need more prisons? We need (more and better) communities, education, health care and jobs, to prevent more people from going to prison or jail because of crimes committed. We need to look at poverty and the culture of want, greed. When we have learned, we will invest in prevention.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oklahoma Prisoner Put to Death With Animal Euthanasia

December 17, 2010
(ChattahBox U.S. News)—Facing a shortage of drugs normally used in human executions, prison authorities in Oklahoma used a three-drug cocktail—including an pentobarbital, an animal euthanasia drug–to execute a murderer yesterday, Reuters reports. The prisoner, John David Duty, was convicted of murdering his cellmate with a bed sheet in 2001.

Prison officials said there were no issues with the use of pentobarbital, which has never been employed in an American execution before. Attorneys had appealed its use, but a federal court in Oklahoma and an appeals court upheld its use as part of the execution, Reuters notes.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oklahoma House panel looks at children of incarcerated parents

Lawmakers say they will try again to get a task force formed next year to examine the issue. A professor tells a House committee that children of incarcerated parents are more prone to use alcohol and drugs and develop criminal behavior.

Oklahoma's prison system at a glance

A very short bit of information:

From NewsOK (The Oklahoman)

Published: September 12, 2010

Oklahoma leads the nation in the number of women put in prison, per capita. It is fourth in the nation in the number of men incarcerated, according to figures compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oklahoma prisons often top 99 percent capacity

By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Published: 8/12/2010 2:25 AM

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

TAFT - The state's prison population routinely hits 99 percent of capacity, the Board of Corrections was told Wednesday.

"We have been over 99 percent in the last 30 days more times than in history," Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones told the board at its regular monthly meeting at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft.

As of Aug. 2, state-run prisons were operating at 98.85 percent of capacity with 18,326 offenders, according to a population analysis provided to board members.

The 99 percent figure includes contract beds at halfway houses, private prisons and county jails.

Jones said operating at such a high percentage of capacity makes it difficult to transfer inmates among facilities. "If we had to vacate a housing unit, there is no place to go," he said.

The agency would normally rely on vacant private prison beds, among other options, but it does not have the funds to pay, Jones said.

"Our system is locked up, for lack of a better term," he said.

State agencies have been cutting budgets as a result of declining state revenue.

Jones said the Department of Corrections will ask lawmakers for a supplemental appropriation of up to $40 million to reduce the number of furlough days its employees have to take during the current budget year and to pay for offender growth.

The agency is operating at 70.9 percent of its authorized level of correctional officers, Jones said.

Board member David
Henneke said he was concerned that the elimination of prison treatment programs due to budget cuts could result in some offenders not being able to perform assignments ordered by the courts.

As a result, they could wind up with longer stays in prison, Henneke said.

Jones said the agency has tried to educate judges and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board about the lack of programs currently available inside the system.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bill Looks to Merge Corrections and Parole

The state Pardon and Parole Board could become part of the Department of Corrections

By Tim Talley
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislation asking voters to merge the state Pardon and Parole Board with the Department of Corrections was approved by the Oklahoma House Tuesday as lawmakers search for ways to save taxpayer dollars and address a massive shortfall in next year's budget.

House members voted 64-30 for the measure and sent it to the Senate for consideration in spite of concerns by some that placing the Pardon and Parole Board under the umbrella of the Corrections Department might affect the board's independence and impartiality when considering inmate parole requests.

The measure's author, House Speaker Chris Benge, said the Corrections Department and Pardon and Parole Board have similar functions and that merging them would save between $200,000 and $400,000 a year.

"This is an option to try to save some money for the state," the Tulsa Republican said.

But Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, said the board might be pressured to parole more inmates when state prisons are near capacity.

"There would be some inference there that some impartiality would be lost," said Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City.

"I don't see any pressure other than what there already is," Benge said. "They have to both manage the prison population together."

Benge said budget woes have forced lawmakers to look for ways to reduce the size and cost of state government, including consolidating agencies. For the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, lawmakers will have about $5.4 billion to spend, which is $1.2 billion less than they appropriated last year.

"A $1.2 billion shortfall is daunting. If we do nothing, I think the taxpayers will be very disappointed," Benge said.

But Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, noted that the merger would require voter approval of a constitutional amendment in November and the state would see no immediate savings.

"This bill doesn't do anything to solve our financial problems," Reynolds said.

Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, said the state could save far more by releasing some nonviolent offenders from state prisons.

A spokesman for the Corrections Department, Jerry Massie, said the agency has not taken a position on the proposal. Pardon and Parole Board Director Terry Jenks did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

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