The Oklahoma House has shot down a bill to allow criminals to begin earning credits for good behavior earlier in their sentence after a lawmaker warned that a vote on the bill would be seen as being "soft on crime."
A plan to target Oklahoma's highest-in-the-nation female incarceration rate with a prison diversion pilot program in Tulsa has unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate.
The Senate voted Wednesday for the bill by Republican Sen. Kim David of Porter that targets women convicted of drug or other nonviolent crimes. David says female offenders first must enter a plea of guilty, which a judge can withhold and waive if the woman completes the 12-to-18-month program.
Oklahoma's Department of Corrections has temporarily banned news media from bringing cameras or any recording equipment inside its prisons.
The Tulsa World reports that DOC officials notified the newspaper this week that requests to bring photographers inside prisons for two interviews had been denied. They instead said a reporter would be allowed to conduct the interviews, so long as no recording equipment was brought into the facility.
State corrections officials say an inmate has died at the Oklahoma State Reformatory.
Officials say the inmate was found Wednesday morning in his cell with blood surrounding him. Officials say the inmate had a faint pulse but responders were unable to revive him. The inmate was pronounced dead about 10 minutes later.
Despite a recent report that Oklahoma's ratio of prison guards to offenders is among the worst in the nation, Governor Mary Fallin's top attorney says he doesn't believe safety is being compromised at the state's prisons.
Fallin's general counsel Steve Mullins said Thursday he meets regularly with the interim director of the Department of Correction and is not concerned there is a problem with staffing at the state's prisons.
A Pew Charitable Trusts report says the cost of health care for prison inmates in Oklahoma bucked a national trend and fell by 6 percent from 2001 to 2008.
Tuesday's report says Oklahoma spent $3,935 per inmate in 2008 — down from $4,201 in 2001. Researchers used numbers from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and 2008 was the most recent year available.
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, the oldest prison in the state, has seen its inmate population fall to less than half of what it was five years ago as officials move hundreds of the state’s most dangerous convicts to private prisons.
The decline has been so steep that some state lawmakers, corrections guards and others wonder if “Big Mac,” as it is called, will become home to only Death Row and the execution chamber, or if the prison will eventually be closed.