State Department of Corrections

Politics and Government
4:39 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Corrections Department Director Says Budget Cuts Risk Safety

Robert Patton, Director, Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The head of the Oklahoma's Department of Corrections says staff shortages and inmate overcrowding are jeopardizing the safety of prison workers and that many of them are leaving because of employee burnout.

DOC Executive Director Robert Patton told a Senate committee Wednesday that despite a pay increase for prison workers approved last year, the agency is struggling to retain workers. He says the agency needs to hire more than 850 prison guards to be fully staffed.

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Oklahoma News
3:57 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Criminal Justice Working Group Meets To Discuss Reforms

Robert Patton, Director, Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma's governor and the head of the state's prison system are among those working on solutions to the state's rapidly growing prison population.

A criminal justice working group met behind closed doors on Monday to begin talks on how to curb the growth of Oklahoma inmates.

Legislative leaders joined with Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton and groups representing law enforcement, the state's mental health agency and others.

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Oklahoma News
12:57 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Oklahoma Has Highest Rate Of Prison Homicides

Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester

The latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show Oklahoma has the highest rate of prison homicides in the nation, with state inmates killed at a rate more than three times the national average.

The figures reviewed by The Associated Press as part of a months-long investigation show 39 homicides at Oklahoma prisons between 2001 and 2012, a rate of 14 per 100,000 inmates. The second highest rate is Maryland with 11 homicides per 100,000. The national average is 4 per 100,000.

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Prisoners Of Debt
6:47 am
Tue February 3, 2015

For Some Offenders, A ‘Revolving Door’ Of Fees

Michael Harveson
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

Editors Note: This is the second in a series of stories reported jointly by Oklahoma Watch and KGOU Radio.  The next Oklahoma Watch story will be published Sunday, and the next KGOU story will be broadcast Monday.

The court fees and fines that many nonviolent criminal offenders in Oklahoma must pay can be bewildering, especially if the offender makes a misstep, such as failing to pay on time.

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Prisoners Of Debt
7:32 am
Sun February 1, 2015

After Prison, Many Offenders Mired In Debt

Darlene Lorenz, of Tulsa, is paying off about $91,000 in fines and fees related to her convictions on various drug and firearms charges.
M. Scott Carter Oklahoma Watch

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of stories reported jointly by Oklahoma Watch and KGOU. A radio segment will be aired on Monday, and the next story will be published on Tuesday.

Darlene Lorenz was released from prison seven years ago.

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Politics and Government
6:52 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Department Of Corrections Asks For 18% Increase For Staff And Salaries

Oklahoma Department of Corrections badge.
Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections defended its fiscal year 2016 appropriation requests Tuesday during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and the Judiciary budget hearing.

The department is requesting appropriations that would be nearly 18 percent more than what they were given for the current fiscal year.

Director of Communications Terri Watkins said the agency wants to eventually get back to levels of funding it saw six or seven years ago.

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Politics and Government
12:17 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Bill Filed To Create Alert System For Escaped Inmates

State Rep. John Paul Jordan (R-Yukon)
Credit okhouse.gov

An Oklahoma lawmaker has filed a measure to notify the public when inmates escape from state prisons.

The measure by Rep. John Paul Jordan of Yukon will act as an "Amber Alert" or "Silver Alert" system for the public whenever a prisoner escapes into the general population. Jordan says it would notify the public and give them an opportunity to protect themselves.

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Politics and Government
3:29 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Gov. Fallin Creates Criminal Justice Reform Committee

Gov. Mary Fallin
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has issued an executive order creating a special committee to develop reforms to how the state handles nonviolent offenders who have substance abuse problems and mental health issues.

Fallin issued the order Wednesday creating the six-member Oklahoma Justice Reform Steering Committee.

The committee will develop a plan for implementing justice reform measures tailored to Oklahoma's security needs and budget and prioritize ways to reduce prison overcrowding and promote public safety.

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Capital Punishment
4:55 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Corrections Department Director Says State Ready To Resume Executions

Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections

One week before a man's scheduled execution for killing a baby, the head of Oklahoma's prison system says he's confident in his staff's ability to carry out the first lethal injection in the state since one went awry in April.

Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told the Board of Corrections on Thursday that the staff at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester has worked "very hard" to prepare for the execution and three others planned soon.

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Oklahoma News
5:00 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Four Inmates Escape Prison In Less Than One Week

Credit mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

An Oklahoma prison inmate who walked away from a minimum security facility on New Year's Eve was the fourth inmate to escape from the prison in less than a week.

Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie says 24-year-old Christopher Rowe remained on the loose Tuesday. Massie says officials believe he is in the Tulsa area. The other three inmates who walked away from the John H. Lilley Correctional Center on Dec. 27 were returned to the Okfuskee County facility within a day.

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