, Muskogee, OK

December 25, 2012

Okla. sees drop in inmates on monitored probation

Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma corrections officials are supervising fewer people on probation and parole after a change in the law that lets district attorneys track more of them.

The number of people supervised on probation by the Corrections Department has fallen from 30,000 to 20,000 since 2006. The state's 27 district attorneys supervise 10,000 inmates who had been charged with felonies and 27,000 with misdemeanors, according to The Oklahoman newspaper.

Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said a 2005 law let felony probation cases be transferred to district attorneys. Like private probation supervision companies, district attorneys charge probationers $40 per month in supervision fees. The Oklahoma District Attorneys Council says probation supervision fees generated $14 million in the last fiscal year.

When the Corrections Department supervises probation, it costs nearly $100 per month.

"If anything, it saves us money," Massie said. He said the prison system is continuing to fight overcrowding and faces budget concerns.

The number of inmates supervised on parole after release from prison also has dropped steadily since 2006. In January 2006, there were 4,421 parolees under state supervision. That number is now 3,046.

"I think the board has just gotten more conservative," Massie said. "In 2005, there were like 1,500 or so people released on parole. In 2010, there were like half of that."

Massie said an electronic monitoring program, which was expanded in recent months, may contribute to further decreases in the number of parolees.