Oklahoma CURE

Ensuring that prisons are used only for those who absolutely must be incarcerated and that prisoners have all the resources they need to turn their lives around.

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OK_CURE President Letter to Editor

Aug 25, 2015 | by Lynn Powell

By William Drew, Tulsa | Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2015 12:00 am

The ACLU is right (“ACLU claims parole rule misapplied,” Aug. 18). A good example is my sentence, which carried the 85 percent rule required by law. However, I served 91 percent or seven months past the 85 percent.

Did the extra seven months make the public any safer? No, because I already had completed the voluntary faith and character program, for which I received no credit. I didn’t have any sudden change of heart in my desire to be a better citizen.

What did that 6 percent cost the taxpayers of Oklahoma? Seven months at $2,000 per month — $14,000. My bed could have been used by one of the 1,500 inmates waiting in county jails at $40 a day. So add 210 days at a cost of $8,400, and that totals $22,400.

The only question I have is the $5 million cost cited in the story. That would account for only 223 inmates under my circumstances. There are hundreds more serving 20 years, 30 years, or more, which would be much more expensive.

The private prison lobby is one of the strongest in Oklahoma. It lobbies the governor, Legislature, and the board of corrections, which sets policy. And its efforts are not to reduce the prison population. The current policy has been effect for more than 20 years, and I suspect the private prison lobby had something to do with it.

The governor’s on board for change, but saying she didn’t understand is questionable. We need prison reform in Oklahoma, and we need it now.