With the increase, the agency is seeking about $495 million in funding for fiscal year 2015. The department says the money would be used to pay for a growing number of offenders who are placed in private prisons.
The Pardon and Parole Board can continue its practice of treating some offenders’ crimes as violent even though the offenses are not included in two statutory lists of violent crimes, board members were informed Monday.
Tracy George, Pardon and Parole Board interim executive director, said a recent attorney general’s opinion reaffirmed the practice of treating some crimes as violent although they are not among the violent offenses listed in statute.
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.
Oklahoma continues to imprison people at one of the highest rates in the nation, ranking fourth in a newly released report from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Oklahoma, which has seen prison populations increase steadily over the past several decades, incarcerated 648 residents per 100,000 population in 2012, according to the study released Thursday by the bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Justice. That’s up 2.5 percent, an increase from 632 in 2011.
A dedication ceremony is planned for this week for a new memorial honoring Oklahoma Department of Corrections employees who were killed in the line of duty.
The new Oklahoma Correctional Memorial will be dedicated Friday on the grounds of the agency's administration building in Oklahoma City. The Tulsa World reports the memorial honors the 20 Oklahoma corrections employees who were killed on the job.
The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office is asking a judge to order the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to pick up state inmates awaiting transfers from the county jail.
The request for injunction was filed Tuesday. Tulsa County Undersheriff Tim Albin says transferring the inmates will ease the jail's overcrowding problem.
As of Tuesday, the county jail held 1,792 inmates — above the facility's capacity of 1,714 inmates. Albin tells the Tulsa World that about 160 to 170 inmates are being held for the Department of Corrections.
The executive director of the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections announced Monday he will resign Oct. 1, according to eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley. The announcement from Justin Jones comes after a legislative session where the department’s funding was not increased and its budget practices were called into question by key legislative and executive budget negotiators.
Lawmakers have until the end of this month to complete their work, including the passing of a state budget. The adjournment date might come sooner with the announcement of an agreement on how to spend the state’s money.
The budget to pay for Oklahoma’s government will be $7.1 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1, under an agreement between Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders. For most state agencies the amount of money they’ll receive in the new budget year is the same as last, but Fallin says the largest increase in the budget is for public schools in Oklahoma.