MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 2, 2012

Oklahoma prisons out of space for female offenders


Associated Press

— VINITA — The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections says the prison system is out of space for female offenders, in part because of a rule that requires convicts serve at least 85 percent of sentences for violent crimes, crimes against children and vulnerable adults and some drug trafficking offenses.

"We have fewer females discharging so far this year and we have more coming in," DOC Director Justin Jones told the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/TzU0c8 ) Friday following a Board of Corrections meeting in Vinita.

Jones said the department took in 1,198 female inmates last year and released 1,162. It's projected to receive 1,242 women this year and expects to release 1,131.

"The key is we are already full," Jones said. "We had been experiencing a downward trend and all of a sudden we are heading back up. That is the key."

Overall, the system saw a net growth of 763 offenders from October 2011 to October 2012, 108 females and 655 males, according to the monthly population update given to the Board of Corrections. Another 1,681 convicts are in county jails awaiting transfer to the Department of Corrections when beds become available, according to the report.

The DOC is currently asking for a nearly $6.4 million supplemental appropriation to get through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The supplemental is needed partly to fund increased reliance on private prison beds and legislatively mandated pay increases to private prisons and halfway houses.