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
  • Top honors for NPS

    Top honors keep rolling in for both of Norman’s high schools. The district learned this past week that Norman High School and Norman North High School have been recognized as two of the most rigorous high schools in the country and in the ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Wind power bursting

    There are a few wind generators dotting the Norman skyline, but western and northwestern Oklahoma makes up for the deficit here. An industry group this week said Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in the amount of wind-generated ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Protect your home from wildfires

    To most people, fuel is what you put into your gas tank. To firefighters, it means something altogether different. To people who make a living putting out fires, fuel is that material that feeds wildfires — and there is an abundance of it ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Let’s toast: Main Street bridge nearly complete

    It was January 2013 when crews began knocking down the Main Street bridge over Interstate 35. The timeline on completion has always been this May. If everything comes together and the weather holds for the next few days, the overpass and ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Yes to Capitol and museum

    Two major spending bills have emerged from the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee headed by Norman Rep. Scott Martin. Both are up for passage in the full House of Representatives. We believe both deserve passage....

    April 11, 2014

  • Assistance needed

    The planned reopening of the Canadian River bridge connecting Purcell and Lexington is still more than two months away. Some of the businesses that depended on cross-bridge trade may not make it that long....

    April 11, 2014

  • Voters need speak up

    As candidates gear up to get their names on the ballot this year, it also may be time for voters to take some initiative, too....

    April 9, 2014

  • Let the filing begin

    The path to the state Capitol and local election board offices will be busy for the remainder of this week. Candidates, incumbents and those thinking they might want to be an incumbent will sign up today through Friday to have their names ...

    April 9, 2014

  • Taking care of business

    The backlog of state prisoners filling county jails in Oklahoma is finally getting some attention. The Associated Press’ Sean Murphy reports the new director of the state Department of Corrections has made clearing the inmate backlog a ...

    April 8, 2014

  • A Tuesday kind of market

    A family friendly, festive atmosphere is what organizers of Cleveland County’s Farm Market hope for tonight at the fairgrounds on East Robinson Street....

    April 8, 2014