The world’s leader in incarceration rates operates prisons at 113 percent of capacity, even with three private prisons. “It is shameful what is going on,” says Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh.
The Oklahoma Board of Corrections has taken the initial steps to add capacity to the state prison system, the Tulsa World reports. The board began the process of selling up to $116.5 million in bonds. Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said that whether new prisons would be built or existing facilities would be expanded has not been determined. It could be a combination of both, he said. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections for years has been plagued by prison overcrowding and deteriorating facilities. “If the state doesn’t take a proactive attitude on this, the feds are going to come in and make it happen,” Allbaugh said.
Oklahoma uses three private prisons to house 5,800 offenders. The agency spends $120 million a year on private prisons. Without private prisons, the state is at 153 percent of capacity; including the private prisons, the system is at 113 percent of capacity. Oklahoma’s incarceration rate leads the world. Allbaugh said he is focused on inmates in county jails awaiting transport to state facilities. Even with criminal justice reforms enacted last session, the state’s prison population is expected to grow by 2,367 inmates by 2026. “It is shameful what is going on,” Allbaugh said. “For some reason, I guess, everybody thinks we are supposed to have a magic wand in the closet somewhere and grow that tree that grows money. I haven’t figured it out yet.”