Friday, April 28, 2017

Oklahoma prison system has record number of offenders; many states facing overcrowding

Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, Okla.
(Oklahoma Department of Corrections photo)
Oklahoma officials say there is a record number of offenders in the state's prison system, which is operating at 109 percent capacity, Graham Lee Brewer reports for The Oklahoman. Of the 62,000 offenders in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections system, "nearly 34,000, are outside prison walls, either on parole or probation or in a community supervision program or on GPS monitoring. More than 26,000 are incarcerated in a state or private prison or halfway house. Another 1,700 are in county jails awaiting transfer to a state facility."

Most of Oklahoma's prisons are located in rural areas. Oklahoma also leads the nation in female prisoners. Prison overcrowding is a problem in many states. For example, "Ohio’s 27 prisons are a third over capacity with more than 50,000 inmates," Karen Kasler reports for WKSU radio in northeast Ohio. Nebraska state prisons are at 159 percent capacity, Paul Hammel reports for the Kearney Hub.

Joe Allbaugh, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, told reporters, "When you think about one in 80 Oklahomans is incarcerated or under supervision, you know somebody who's in prison, or you love somebody who is." Allbaugh in January asked the Oklahoma Legislature for $1.64 billion in appropriations, saying nearly $849 million would go toward building two 2,000-bed medium security prisons.

"The legislature awarded $484.9 million for the 2017 fiscal year," Brewer writes. "The department's total budget for the current fiscal year, including federal funding and revenue from revolving funds and other sources, is $612 million."

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