DOC Cancels Contract With Tulsa Correctional Facility

Monday, August 9th 2010, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

By Lacie Lowry, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Inmates are on the move in Tulsa after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections cancels its contract with a correctional facility. 

The DOC is now relocating dozens of offenders in the Prisoner Public Work program and leaving one building almost empty in the process.

Maximum capacity at Riverside Intermediate Sanction Facility is 380. Right now the real concern is minimum capacity.

It's only going to get quieter for administrator Donnie Coffman and his staff at the facility on Charles Page Boulevard in Tulsa. 

Over the last two months, Riverside, which is run by Avalon Correctional Services, has lost almost all the inmates in the Prisoner Public Work program.

Under the program, state inmates come in and get assigned to a work crew that picks up trash, digs ditches and mows lawns around the city. Eventually those inmates move on to a halfway house and then get released back into society.

"The way that it's set up for re-entry, I thought it was an important step in transitioning them from behind a fence to a halfway house," said Donnie Coffman, Avalon Regional Administrator. "They do good work. It's a good management of our tax dollars."

And money is exactly what led to the DOC cutting the Riverside contract short.

The facility and the Muskogee Community Corrections Center were both affected by the DOC cutbacks. The two contracts saved the department $2 million.

"We're going to have to make up $40 million in budget shortfall this year, so we're looking at every operation we have," said Jerry Massie, Oklahoma Department of Corrections. 

The Prisoner Public Work program was the only program that didn't make money for the DOC. The department had to shut something out.

"We don't have the luxury now to have a function that's not generating some income for us," said Massie. 

The few offenders left will soon be transported to other facilities, like work centers or halfway houses. The DOC says their progress in the system won't be affected.

Avalon President Brian Costello says he has two options moving forward with the Riverside facility. Either try to renegotiate a contract with the Department of Corrections or seek new contracts to fill up the building, perhaps with federal inmates.