The Norman Transcript

Editorials

October 4, 2013

Prisons full, more prisoners on the way

NORMAN — Two Oklahoma lawmakers who are working on corrections-related issues know the answer to the state’s prison growth problem: Quit locking everyone up. Keep the violent ones behind bars, and put the non-violent and drug possession offenders in community corrections settings.

Oklahoma’s prison system is at 98 percent capacity, with inmates who have been sentenced still waiting in county jails like Cleveland County’s. Some have been waiting nearly a year for a bed to open up for them in a state prison.

The 26,700 inmates include about 5,800 parked in private prisons throughout the state. Private prisons here also bring in thousands of inmates from other states.

“We’ve got to look at who we’re locking up,” Rep. Gus Blackwell told Oklahoma Watch.

Long-term reform envisioned a few years ago by House Speaker Kris Steele could lead to fewer inmates in state prisons and private prisons. However, much of what Speaker Steele put forth has been set aside.

Staffing is getting to be as big a problem as overcrowding. Guards at state prisons are working multiple double shifts per week.

Drug and non-violent offenders make up 52 percent of the state’s inmates. Programs like drug courts and community corrections councils are helping, but there are far too few of them operating in the state.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • State, local jobmarkets look up

    A tight labor market is often a big problem for economic development professionals. They need to be able to promise companies that there are willing workers in the community’s labor pool....

    July 26, 2014

  • Be careful out in the heat

    This week’s triple-digit temperatures are contributing to heat-related illnesses. The state health department’s Injury Prevention Service reminds Oklahomans of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke....

    July 25, 2014

  • Get smart on crime

    It’s no secret that prison guards have become the frontline mental health case workers in Oklahoma prisons. Accessing mental health services outside of prison is tough but even harder behind the walls....

    July 25, 2014

  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014

  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014