DOC Director Addresses Overcrowding, Dangers It Poses

Wednesday, October 25th 2017, 6:09 pm

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says our state is number two in the nation for the number of people incarcerated per 100,000.

The director says the DOC needs more than a million dollars to meet basic immediate needs but billions to solve the real problem.

In one word, the director of Oklahoma's Department of Corrections explains the biggest problem it faces.

"Overcrowding,” he said.

It's so bad Allbaugh says he's worried what happened in North Carolina two weeks ago could happen here one day.

Two prison workers died when inmates tried to escape.

"We have to do something or the system is going to blow up,” he said.

Here's how the DOC population numbers break down.

Today, the department oversees more than 63,000 people; just over 27,000 are incarcerated. Most of the others are on some type of supervision.

County Jail contracts were canceled earlier this year so ten counties across the state are losing out on money for housing inmates for the DOC.

But it means the department is saving $15 million this year.

When asked if he ever foresees putting those inmates back in the county jails and paying them, Allbaugh said, “No, no… I hope we're out of the county jail business."

The money saved is a drop in the bucket for the about $2 billion Allbaugh says it would take to build three new prisons that he says are desperately needed.

"The space between the bunk beds is anywhere from 6 to 12 inches apart,” he said. “And when you have inmates that are in that close proximity, problems happen."

Allbaugh hopes lawmakers are listening.

"We're not as glamorous as higher ed. or department of health,” he said. “I tend to represent the ugly underbelly of society that everyone wants to just not pay attention to."

Allbaugh was in Tulsa Wednesday.