“It’s not just a Cleveland County problem,” he said. “It’s everywhere.”
Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, is part of a group of lawmakers looking for solutions.
“I just toured Mable Bassett and Joseph Harp,” Standridge said. “They’re full to capacity. We need more beds or less people in prison. This year was a tough year with the budget, so hopefully next year we can tackle this problem a little more aggressively.”
Standridge is on the subcommittee for appropriations for public safety which includes prisons as part of its purview.
“I think we need to look at how many people we have in prison and ask if we need more beds,” Standridge said.
He said it also would be appropriate to re-evaluate who’s in prison and whether there are appropriate programs for rehabilitation.
“I’m doing an interim study on DOC and drug addiction,” Standridge said. “My study is designed to look at how big a problem that is, and whether we’re treating it appropriately.”
By presenting drug treatment options inside of prison, it might be possible to reduce recidivism. Standridge said about 85 percent of people inside Oklahoma prisons have former or active drug addictions. While he believes people should pay the penalty for crimes already committed, treatment could help prevent those people returning to prison down the road. Funding programs is an issue, however.
“There are only so many dollars,” he said. “We have to be as efficient as we can with them. We can’t do everything we want to do.”