Department of Corrections Wants Reform for Oklahoma
Witnessing the director of a state agency plead with lawmakers to shrink the size of his department to save the state money is about as common these days as seeing a Blockbuster Video store. So when that actually happens, everyone needs to sit up and take notice.
Joe Allbaugh, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, led a remarkable presentation before the Corrections Board this week on both the importance and urgency of serious criminal justice reform. Despite the overwhelming passage at the polls of two landmark State Questions in November of 2016 that are anticipated to reduce the Sooner State’s incarcerated numbers, Oklahoma still faces a 25% increase in its prison population in just nine years and, Allbaugh says, the state has neither the money nor the resources to handle it. He believes the best solution is to institute the same conservative reforms, just as Texas successfully did, when Allbaugh led the Texas Corrections Department.
“If we don’t implement criminal justice reform, and we don’t make changes to accommodate the flood of new inmates, then we have only one option: Open the back door,” Allbaugh warned his board members.
Warning also of the lack of rehabilitation in Oklahoma’s prisons, Allbaugh asked the board, “If we’re not the department of corrections, what are we? Department of warehousing?”
This report from News 9, Oklahoma City’s CBS affiliate, captures the meeting and its substance quite well. Please note, as the reporter very astutely points out, only one lawmaker attended the meeting.