The Norman Transcript

Local news

September 21, 2013

State’s aging prisons a problem as inmate population grows

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s population grew by about 23 percent between 1980 and 2010, but its prison population during the same time saw a more than 500 percent increase and continues to grow, the former director of the state prison system said Friday.

Justin Jones, in his first public presentation since leaving the Department of Corrections this summer, said compared to other states, Oklahoma locks up a lot of people who have “high needs” but are relatively low-risk offenders.

The state’s rate of recidivism is comparatively low, he said, because many of those who are incarcerated wouldn’t be coming back anyway. Oklahoma spends about 7 percent of its appropriated revenue on corrections.

“We are a nation that relies heavily on incapacitation and incarceration to solve our criminal justice issues,” Jones told atendees at the regular meeting of the Tyner Cornbread and Beans luncheon.

Jones, who began his corrections career as a probation officer in 1977, spoke of two and three generations of families in the same prison. Reaching at-risk youth before they have a felony conviction is the best prevention method, he said.

“The best indicators of a pathway to prison are your biological parents and your zip code,” he said. “We know where the next generations of prisoners are coming from. Seventy percent of them are the children of current inmates.”

Seventy percent of the incoming inmates have some kind of substance abuse problem, and the percentage of inmates with

mental health issues has risen 400 percent in the past 40 years, Jones said. He said the number of inmates over 50 grew 45 percent this past year, presenting health and other aging issues for corrections officials.

Oklahoma’s reliance on private prison beds was a topic of several audience questions. Jones said he was not opposed to outsourcing some government services but prisons and law enforcement may be different.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Oklahoma officials account for $9.4M in disaster spending

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, officials announced that they have spent close to $9.4 million in private donations on relief efforts....

    April 24, 2014

  • Earth Day activities continue this week

    Oklahoma is no stranger to extreme weather, but many say those extremes are even greater than before. Norman resident and biologist Kathy Rand is convinced those climate irregularities are a result of climate change caused by pollution, ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Man arraigned after wife’s death

    A judge on Wednesday denied bond for a 37-year-old Norman man formally charged with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife early Saturday morning in their southeast Norman apartment. Abid Sandhu, 37, was arraigned before Special ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Moore schools receive $500K

    As Mickey Davis addressed the auditorium, the picture of a bright-eyed, happy 8-year-old on the podium in front of her could not be ignored. Davis’ son, Kyle Davis, was one of seven who lost their lives in the May 2013 tornadoes at Plaza ...

    April 24, 2014

  • School to present ‘Hamlet’

    To be or not to be? That is the question Norman North High School students are answering during their production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” this week....

    April 24, 2014

  • Historic house celebrates centennial

    When Fredrick Holmberg arrived in Norman more than 100 years ago, he tucked his violin beneath his arm and headed for the University of Oklahoma campus.  A century later, another violinist, Cindy Zhang, will perform at the home Holmberg ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Dorman wants bipartisan appeal

    Rep. Joe Dorman said he’s proud to be a Democrat running for governor, but he hopes to garner bipartisan support. In a visit Wednesday to the Transcript, Dorman said, if elected, he wants to work across party lines like former Gove. Henry ...

    April 24, 2014

  • ‘Frozen’ to air Friday

    Movies on Main in Blanchard will host a showing of “Frozen” at 8 p.m. Friday. The evening will include hot dogs, chips, drinks, popcorn and free movie merchandise....

    April 24, 2014

  • Safety Town registration begins Saturday

    Saturday marks the beginning of registration for Safety Town classes at Sooner Mall. Safety Town, a 37-year Norman tradition, teaches children, ages 5 and 6, the importance of bicycle, fire and personal safety. Classes are 50 minutes long ...

    April 24, 2014