Oklahoma prisons: 99.2% filled

Oklahoma prisons: Situation normal, all filled up
Jan. 28th 2013
From: Tulsa World.

The Legislature needs to grant Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones the additional $66.7 million he is requesting for prison operations and staff retention for fiscal 2014.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=61&articleid=20130128_61_A11_CUTLIN804961&allcom=1

The same news elsewhere:

Oklahoma needs more prison beds, corrections director says
From: News OK

Law cited in growth
The inmate population growth is attributed to a state law that requires inmates convicted of certain violent crimes, including murder and manslaughter, to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole and inmates drawing longer sentences, he said.

The number of prisoners increased about 900 in the past year, Jones said. The agency was able the past couple of years to renovate buildings on prison grounds into bed space, but no spare buildings are available. The state has a growing backlog of inmates in county jails, Jones said. About 1,700 are in county jails now, up from 650 in 2000. Since 2003, the state consistently has been backed up by 1,000 inmates or more.
When county jails go over their capacity, they face fines and disciplinary action from the state Health Department.

Overcrowded jails can invoke the so-called 72-hour rule to get state prisoners transferred or scheduled to be moved in that time period.

Jones suggested lawmakers consider contracting with one of two empty 2,100-bed private prisons in the state, in Watonga and Hinton, and place prisoners there. County jails receive $27 a day to hold state prisoners; the state this year will pay about $22 million to the counties, Jones said. Placing the prisoners in one of the private prisons is estimated to cost $29 million.

Read more here: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-needs-more-prison-beds-corrections-director-says/article/3748924?custom_click=pod_headline_politics

Note from OK PW: We could ask ourselves how this is possible? And why do we need more prisons? We need (more and better) communities, education, health care and jobs, to prevent more people from going to prison or jail because of crimes committed. We need to look at poverty and the culture of want, greed. When we have learned, we will invest in prevention.

CCA giving Sayre cops “the runaround” on prison riot

Interesting follow-up coverage from what appears to be the Oklahoman’s on-line edition, newsok.com. In addition to exploring the attempts of local police to investigate the riot, it goes into the distribution of California prisoners in for-profit facilities across the country. 

———-from newsok.com———

Cause of October prison riot in Sayre continues to be withheld

The cause of the Oct. 11 riot at a private prison in Sayre has yet to be released due to ongoing investigation by local authorities.

BY ANDREW KNITTLE aknittle@opubco.com  

Published: December 10, 2011

— Nearly a month after a riot that injured inmates at a private prison in western Oklahoma, prison officials say they do not have a cause that they can release.

They will say that 16 of the inmates who were hospitalized after the riot have since been released, but they won’t say what types of injuries they suffered in the Oct. 11 melee.

Mike Machak, spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America, said it’s too early to release details on the riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility.

“While we are not aware of any criminal charges that have been filed, we do know that the Sayre Police Department‘s investigation is ongoing,” Machak said.

“To that end, we do not want to release details that might undermine those ongoing efforts.”

Sayre Police Chief Ronnie Harrold said he has yet to receive anything from the prison regarding the riot. He said he thinks something is close to happening, but that the prison corporation has “been giving us the runaround.”

“It’s coming close to the point where we would expect for them to turn it over to us,” Harrold said. “At some point, if they want charges filed, they’ll have to turn it over to us.”

Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot erupted just before noon, and the help of local law enforcement agencies was required to subdue the prisoners.

In addition to the 16 inmates who required hospitalization, another 30 were treated at a medical facility at the prison, she said.

Deherrera said no prison staff members or assisting law enforcement officers were injured.

The more than 2,000 prisoners held at the private prison are from California. Machak said inmates from Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont have been housed at the prison over the past 12 years.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website, the state has more than 9,588 inmates serving time in out-of-state prisons.

In addition to North Fork, Arizona has two prisons that house 4,596 inmates from California. A facility in Mississippi has custody of an additional 2,592 prisoners.

California began transferring prisoners to out-of-state facilities in 2007 to alleviate overcrowding and restore rehabilitation programs in its state-run lockups, according to the California department’s website.

The move to transfer the inmates was prompted by an executive order issued in October 2006 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and was expected to be a temporary measure to allow prison reform in California.

“Justice for Oklahoma Women” Rally Saturday July 16

Justice for Oklahoma Women Rally set for Saturday July 16, 9 am, at the State Capitol South Plaza
From: Brenda Golden, via Censored News

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties (S.P.I.R.I.T) is hosting a rally at the State Capitol to bring awareness to the need for action concerning the high incarceration rate of Oklahoma women.

Members of S.P.I.R.I.T. became incensed upon learning of the harsh and unjust sentencing of Patricia Spottedcrow, a young American Indian female who is the mother of four young children. Spottedcrow was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling $31 worth of marijuana to an undercover police officer.

Ms. Spottedcrow’s case is indicative of the statewide injustice system that prefers to lock up our mothers, daughters, aunts, and sisters for mere infractions of the law. Over the last few years there have been conferences, task forces, forums and studies on the subject of why Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate for women in the nation. Yet no changes have occurred to combat the root cause of this problem.
The “Justice for Oklahoma Women” Rally is to call all concerned citizens together for demanding action to keep our women home with their families where they belong. Philip Deere, noted Muscogee (Creek) elder and statesmen said, “Women are the backbone of our nation.” This S.P.I.R.I.T holds as truth.

Beginning at 9 am at the State Capitol, South Plaza, the Rally will feature State Senator Andrew Rice, Attorney for Spotted Crow, Josh Welch, and award winning poet Lauren Zuniga among other performers, musicians, and speakers. Senator Rice will speak on the issue of “smart on crime” policies going on at the Capitol. While Josh Welch will inform everyone of how unjust the sentencing of Patricia Spottedcrow is a small symptom of the larger issue. S.P.I.R.I.T. hopes that everyone who is concerned about the incarceration of Oklahoma women will stand together at the State Capitol on Saturday, July 16th to send a statement to the Judicial System, District Attorneys and Legislators. Stop the madness!

To date S.P.I.R.I.T has hosted a benefit concert at Istvan Gallery called “Singing for SpottedCrow” on July 10th that raised $245 for the Spottedcrow legal defense fund. The group is also sponsoring an online auction of donated art items such as signed prints by Dana Tiger and photos of Flaming Lips lead singer, Wayne Coyne, for the Spottedcrow legal defense fund.

S.P.I.R.I.T. is a grass roots movement that formed around the Oklahoma Centennial Counter Celebration in 2007. Their main platforms are to teach the truth in Oklahoma schools, end the land run re-enactments in public schools, stop the 89er day celebrations, and the removal of Indian type mascots in public schools. They can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/okspirit. S.P.I.R.I.T. has sponsored numerous rallies in the past for the purpose of educating the public and increase awareness on indigenous issues.

For more information about the “Justice for Oklahoma Women” Rally, contact Brenda Golden at 405-949-0893. She is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is currently attending Oklahoma City University School of Law and holds an MBA and a BBA both from the University of Oklahoma.

Press Release for Immediate Release
July 16, 2011 – Oklahoma City, OK, State Capitol
“Justice for Oklahoma Women” Rally – 9:00 AM

Starting at 9 am tomorrow morning, Saturday July 16th, there will be a rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol, to bring attention to the outrageous over prosecution and incarceration of Oklahoma women. In attendance will be members of various Native American organizations, and other Non Indian groups and organizations, along with speakers representing Oklahoma State Government.

Featured speakers will be Oklahoma State Senator Andrew Rice, along with attorney Josh Welch, the legal representative of Patricia SpottedCrow a young American Indian female who is the mother of four young children that was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling $31 worth of marijuana. There will also be various segments of communities in Oklahoma in attendance as well as other speakers and musicians.

9:00 AM – Call for Justice
9:15 AM – Welcome from members of SPIRIT
9:30 AM – State Senator Andrew Rice
9:45 AM – Music by Brent Blount
10:00 AM – Josh Welch, Attorney at Law
10:15 AM – Music by Kallo Hill
10:30 AM – Lauren Zuniga, Poet Laureate
10:45 AM – Demand for Justice

Dr. Susan Sharpe of the University of Oklahoma issued a statement in honor of this event that says, “Not only do we incarcerate women at an outrageous rate, but we fail to allocate money to help them deal with the traumas in their past that have led to their drug use, the most common reason for incarceration. It is past time for us to become smart on crime and work towards strengthening families and communities rather than destroying them.”

It is time for Oklahoma to take notice. It is time for Oklahoma to take action. It is time for Oklahoma to change.

For more information about the “Justice for Oklahoma Women” Rally, contact Brenda Golden at 405-949-0893 or Kathryn Hatcher at 405-830-0626.

Oklahoma Prisoner Put to Death With Animal Euthanasia

December 17, 2010

(ChattahBox U.S. News)—Facing a shortage of drugs normally used in human executions, prison authorities in Oklahoma used a three-drug cocktail—including an pentobarbital, an animal euthanasia drug–to execute a murderer yesterday, Reuters reports. The prisoner, John David Duty, was convicted of murdering his cellmate with a bed sheet in 2001.

Prison officials said there were no issues with the use of pentobarbital, which has never been employed in an American execution before. Attorneys had appealed its use, but a federal court in Oklahoma and an appeals court upheld its use as part of the execution, Reuters notes.

Read the rest here.

Oklahoma House panel looks at children of incarcerated parents

Lawmakers say they will try again to get a task force formed next year to examine the issue. A professor tells a House committee that children of incarcerated parents are more prone to use alcohol and drugs and develop criminal behavior.

Oklahoma’s prison system at a glance

A very short bit of information:

From NewsOK (The Oklahoman)

Published: September 12, 2010

Oklahoma leads the nation in the number of women put in prison, per capita. It is fourth in the nation in the number of men incarcerated, according to figures compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Read more: http://newsok.com/at-a-glance/article/3494056#ixzz0zcfy7KOJ

Oklahoma prisons often top 99 percent capacity

By BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Published: 8/12/2010 2:25 AM

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=16&articleid=20100812_16_A8_TAFTTh694797&archive=yes

TAFT – The state’s prison population routinely hits 99 percent of capacity, the Board of Corrections was told Wednesday.

“We have been over 99 percent in the last 30 days more times than in history,” Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones told the board at its regular monthly meeting at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft.

As of Aug. 2, state-run prisons were operating at 98.85 percent of capacity with 18,326 offenders, according to a population analysis provided to board members.

The 99 percent figure includes contract beds at halfway houses, private prisons and county jails.

Jones said operating at such a high percentage of capacity makes it difficult to transfer inmates among facilities. “If we had to vacate a housing unit, there is no place to go,” he said.

The agency would normally rely on vacant private prison beds, among other options, but it does not have the funds to pay, Jones said.

“Our system is locked up, for lack of a better term,” he said.

State agencies have been cutting budgets as a result of declining state revenue.

Jones said the Department of Corrections will ask lawmakers for a supplemental appropriation of up to $40 million to reduce the number of furlough days its employees have to take during the current budget year and to pay for offender growth.

The agency is operating at 70.9 percent of its authorized level of correctional officers, Jones said.

Board member David
Henneke said he was concerned that the elimination of prison treatment programs due to budget cuts could result in some offenders not being able to perform assignments ordered by the courts.

As a result, they could wind up with longer stays in prison, Henneke said.

Jones said the agency has tried to educate judges and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board about the lack of programs currently available inside the system.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=16&articleid=20100812_16_A8_TAFTTh694797&archive=yes

al Jazeera English: Dying inside: Elderly in Prison

Part 2:

This was aired on Al Jazeera English, from June 5th 2010:

The US’ massive prison population is getting older.

Long sentences that were handed out decades ago are catching up with the American justice system.

Prisons across the country are dedicating entire units just to house the elderly.

During difficult economic times, the issue has hit a crisis point. Estimates are that locking up an older inmate costs three times as much as a younger one.

How are prisons dealing with this issue? Who are the prisoners that are turning gray behind bars?

Josh Rushing gains exclusive and unprecedented access to jails and prisons across the country to tell the story.