State Of Oklahoma May Eliminate Prison Visits For 3 Months

Tuesday, November 16th 2010, 1:12 pm
By: News On 6

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says it may have to eliminate prison visits for three months next year if it doesn't get more money from the state.

Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie told The Oklahoman that the agency is considering getting rid of visits from April through June. He said inmates would still be able to see their lawyers, but not family and friends.

Massie said the proposed visitation policy change is a manpower issue.

Because of the budget crisis, Oklahoma Department of Corrections employees are being furloughed two days a month. When the department started the furloughs, it reduced visitation from four weekends a month to two weekends a month, he said.

There is a plan to increase the number of furlough days to three a month beginning in April if no supplemental funding is received, Massie said. If that happens, the department may eliminate inmate visits for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, he said.

Massie said prison officials realize that the idea isn't a good situation, but said it also isn't good to have just 71 percent of authorized positions filled within the department.

The department is authorized to have 5,895 employees, but currently only has 4,187 of those positions filled because of the budget crisis, he said. The department has 1,793 correctional officers, which is 69 percent of those authorized positions.

There are 24,774 inmates in state correctional institutions, which is 98.3 percent of capacity, he said.

Massie said the department has asked for a supplemental appropriation of about $37 million to ease the crisis.