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May 14, 2013

A perfect summer storm

NORMAN — Oklahoma prison guards are among the lowest paid of state employees. They earn a starting pay of $11.83 per hour and often work 12-hour shifts, 5 days a week.

The mandatory overtime, some double shifts, no pay raises and short staffing is making for a perfect summer storm. One Department of Corrections guard told the Associated Press he fears someone will be physically harmed.

“We’re tired. We’re worn out. By the end of the summer, DOC is going to be at a complete breaking point,” Sgt. David Edelman, a Lexington guard, told the Associated Press. “It will happen.”

Some workers are tracing the lack of raises or budget increase to a fuss between Gov. Mary Fallin and Corrections director Justin Jones. The governor accused the DOC of hiding $22 million in revolving funds in several accounts. The DOC is expecting a stand still budget of $463.7 million.

“The whole revoving accounts story is merely a convenient excuse to give DOC nothing,” the executive director of the Oklahoma Correctional Professionals Association Sean Wallace told the AP this past week.

“We all know that Oklahoma incarcerates more people than nearly anywhere else in the world. Well, that distinction comes with a price.”

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