A group that represents Oklahoma correctional officers says state prisons could end up dangerously understaffed if proposed cost-saving measures take effect.
In a letter to Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton, the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals says it has "grave concerns" about plans to eliminate 12-hour shifts by reducing the number of officers required on security posts.
While the vast majority of states in the U.S. have seen prison health care costs climb sharply in recent years, a new national study shows Oklahoma is one of the few states bucking that trend.
A report on state spending on prison health care released Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows Oklahoma is among ten states where the per-inmate spending declined from 2007 to 2011. Oklahoma had the lowest per-inmate cost in the country in 2011 at $2,558, a decline of 17 percent from $3,071 per inmate in 207 spending.
Sheriffs from across the state are gathering at the state Capitol to voice concern about the increasing number of state prisoners who are being removed from county jails and processed into the state prison system.
Many of the sheriffs who packed the Senate gallery on Tuesday count on the $27 daily per-prisoner reimbursement from the state to help fund jail operations, like medical and food contracts.
Oklahoma corrections officials are once again sending inmates to the Avalon Center in Tulsa, Okla., two months after removing all state prisoners from the halfway house due to an investigation into organized fighting at the facility.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has added new restrictions for members of the media visiting prisons, two weeks after the agency announced a ban on cameras for news media.
The department posted an addendum this week to its media access policies on the agency's website. The new policy requires the department to grant specific authorization in advance for video or audio recording.
Despite Oklahoma's high incarceration rates, a Senate committee has approved a half-dozen bills to increase the criminal penalties for various crimes, including the distribution of child pornography, and drug and human trafficking.
With little discussion and no debate, the Senate Public Safety Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved several bills that dramatically increase fines, penalties or prison time for people convicted of certain crimes.
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.