Proposed Legislation Follows Corrections Audit

Following in the wake of a massive DOC audit which called, in part, for more prison beds, State Senator Jeff Rabon (D-Hugo) today suggested that a 2,500 inmate facility should be constructed near Atoka in his district.

“The (corrections) audit confirmed what we already knew, which is that we’ve reached a breaking point where we must address the issue responsibly with a long term solution to our corrections funding problem,” he said. “It’s time for the Legislature to stop paying private prisons for bed space and to construct a new facility that will accommodate the number of inmates entering the system.”

Rabon said the land where he proposes to the new prison is on 5,200 acres currently occupied by the Howard McLeod Correctional Center.

In related news, State Representative Brian Renegar (D-McAlester) believes that a fee should be levied on prisoners brought from other states to private prisons, with the proceeds used to fund mental health and drug abuse programs in state prisons.

The proposal calls for a fee of $2 per day per out of state inmate. Renegar says that there are some 4,375 inmates in the state right now, with over 800 on the way.

According to Renegar, his proposal could bring in $3.6 million per year.

“OPEA likes what it’s hearing from the capitol these days,” said Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “After the DOC audit offered confirmation of what this association has been saying for many years, it looks as though our legislators are becoming creative when it comes to shoring up our prison system.”

Zearley also mentions an earlier proposal by State Senator Richard Lerblance (D-Hartshorne) that a $309 million, 25 year bond issue that would fund almost 4,000 new beds has drawn OPEA’s interest.

Related News