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Drug use among Oklahoma prison inmates has decreased


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Inmates in Oklahoma's prisons are using less drugs, state corrections officials reported after random testing.

Drug testing at Oklahoma prisons reflected a significant drop in inmate drug use since last year, state corrections officials said Friday.

Random drug testing at the state's prisons, private prisons and contract halfway houses and jails in 2002 showed 2.9 percent of inmates testing positive for drugs, corrections officials told Board of Corrections members at their meeting Friday.

This is down from 5.6 percent in 2001.

Mary Smith, administrator of programs, said the 2002 numbers represent ``an all-time low'' of positive drug tests among Oklahoma inmates.

The numbers continue a downward trend of positive drug tests since 1999. In that year, 9.8 percent of inmates tested were positive for drug use. That fell to 8.7 percent in 2000.

The department has used drug dogs to search for drugs, every day at some prisons. Two prisons _ the Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown and the Lawton Community Corrections Center _ were subject to ``facility sweeps,'' where the entire prison and every inmate is searched.

In those sweeps, 10 out of 793 inmates were found with drugs at Mack Alford. No inmates were found with drugs in the Lawton sweep.

Smith credited the department's substance-abuse treatment program for helping curb inmate drug use. But the biggest boost came from improvements at Oklahoma's private prisons, contract halfway houses and county jails.

In 1999, the department's contractors showed 12.4 percent of inmates tested positive for drugs, according to a department study. That number dropped to 3.2 percent in 2002.

Marijuana was the most common drug found, the study shows.
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