The Norman Transcript

Headlines

July 28, 2013

State penitentiary inmate population declining

NORMAN — 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” will become home only to Death Row and the execution chamber or if the prison will eventually be closed.

As of the last weekly count, 574 inmates were at the facility, compared with close to 1,400 in early 2008.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials say there are no plans to close the maximum-security prison. Some inmates, such as those on Death Row and with serious mental illnesses, could not be moved to private prisons for legal, public-policy and cost reasons, they say. But the steadily deteriorating facilities raise questions about the prison’s future.

In a June 11 statement, the DOC said that it plans to keep the penitentiary in operation “for years to come,” although “the goal is to reduce the facility offender population to approximately 600.” The agency received money in fiscal 2012 to build a new administration building, install a stun fence and move inmates to other facilities. Cell houses were closed because they were “old and not cost-efficient to operate” or posed safety issues, the statement and corrections officials said.

Meanwhile, the state’s prison population keeps rising, and county jails are overcrowded with inmates who wait to be transferred to state prisons. Tulsa County has sued the state over the issue. The corrections department says its system is 98 percent full, and it lacks the funds to contract for more private-prison beds. Recent efforts at criminal justice reform haven’t cut the incarceration rate in Oklahoma, which has the third highest in the nation.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Coaches Luncheon Mixon question off-limits at coaches luncheon

    Toby Rowland addressed the elephant in the room even before Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel arrived Wednesday at Journey Church....

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mixon will not participate in practice

    Preseason practice begins for Oklahoma today. Freshman running back Joe Mixon will not be there. The school announced the decision Wednesday night....

    July 31, 2014

  • Nova Pettigrew Music community bands together to raise money for 2-year-old’s battle with rare form of cancer

    Two-year old Nova Pettigrew was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer six weeks ago. Her father, former Deli sound technician and musician James Pettigrew, noticed something was wrong when running turned to walking, then limping, then ...

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deputies cleared, return to work

    Two deputies involved in a deadly shooting earlier this month are expected to return to work today after being cleared by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office. “They (the Sheriff’s Office) gave me their investigation, I ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Sales tax-free weekend set to begin this weekend

    When stores open Friday morning, shoppers may be waiting. Oklahoma’s annual sales tax holiday is slated to run this weekend with the special exemption beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and ending at midnight on Sunday....

    July 31, 2014

  • India landslide kills 21

    NEW DELHI — Rescuers worked in rain today to dig through a remote village in western India where at least 21 people died as a landslide swept away scores of houses, possibly trapping many more people under debris, officials said....

    July 31, 2014

  • Israeli strike hits UN school

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli artillery shells tore through the walls of a U.N. school crowded with sleeping war refugees and back-to-back explosions rocked a market filled with shoppers Wednesday as Israel’s stepped up campaign against ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Busted water main dumps 20 million gallons of water into UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and adjacent garage

    LOS ANGELES — The rupture of a nearly century-old water main that ripped a 15-foot hole through Sunset Boulevard and turned a swath of the University of California, Los Angeles into a mucky mess points to the risks and expense many cities ...

    July 31, 2014

  • GOP-led House gives go-ahead for suit

    WASHINGTON — A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Just a day before ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Randall Lee Sherrill, 34, possession of juvenile pornography · Dewey Leon Kinsey, 37, possession of controlled dangerous ...

    July 31, 2014