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Oklahoma Board of Corrections seeks $85 million in additional funds

Oct 26, 2014 | by Lynn Powell

The Oklahoma Board of Corrections approved a budget request that will ask the Legislature for more than $555 million for the upcoming fiscal year.The state Board of Corrections on Thursday approved a budget request asking the state Legislature for nearly $85 million in additional appropriations to deal with a record-high prison population.The state Corrections Department is requesting a $555 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with $26 million of the additional funds to go toward dealing with the state’s ever-growing offender population, which recently surpassed 28,000 for the first time.

The Oklahoma Board of Corrections approved a budget request that will ask the Legislature for more than $555 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: October 24, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: October 23, 2014

 

The state Board of Corrections on Thursday approved a budget request asking the state Legislature for nearly $85 million in additional appropriations to deal with a record-high prison population.

 

The state Corrections Department is requesting a $555 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with $26 million of the additional funds to go toward dealing with the state’s ever-growing offender population, which recently surpassed 28,000 for the first time.

 

More than $3 million of the additional funds requested would go toward addressing needs brought on by the increase of inmates coming in from county jails, and $15 million would be used to upgrade the offender management system that classifies and tracks all offenders during their incarceration.

 

Corrections Department Director Robert Patton in April began pulling thousands of state inmates out of county jails throughout Oklahoma and moving them to state facilities, after it was discovered thousands of offenders were sitting in county jails awaiting an open prison bed.

An inspector general’s audit of the department released in July found the offender management system to be inefficient, outdated and inconsistent, and that department officials “must rely on paper case files to make many offender management decisions.”

 

As much as $14 million of the additional funds would create pay raises for employees, giving correctional officers a 7 percent increase and awarding a 5 percent increase for all other employees. The budget would also give the department the funding necessary to pay for all of its open positions.

 

State prisons are staffed at around 60 percent, Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said.

 

The beginning pay for officers is nearly $12 an hour. The department is doing a staff evaluation and plans to finish the first phase next month.

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