OKLAHOMA CITY – The Board of Corrections unanimously approved separate resolutions on Thursday, one relating to state bonds for facility improvements, and the second addressing possible construction of new state prisons.
The approvals, which came during the board’s September meeting at Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester, specifically authorize and direct Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh to:
- Negotiate, finalize and execute such documents, for and on behalf of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, as are necessary for the issuance of the SB 1590 Bonds by the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority.
The bill, passed during last spring’s legislative session, authorized a $116.5 million bond for ODOC construction and maintenance needs across the agency – items ranging from new roofs and locks for cell doors to lighting and plumbing.
- Solicit information for the design, funding, and construction of new correctional facilities and new housing units and, upon evaluation of all submissions, present the information obtained and evaluations to the Board of Corrections at a future meeting.
ODOC stated in its Fiscal Year 2019 budget request that it needed new prisons to meet the needs of its current population (27,237 incarcerated and 960 awaiting transfer from county jails as of Thursday) and future growth. The agency also struggles with aging, dilapidated and obsolete facilities. Only eight of its 24 were originally built to house inmates.
“We want to move forward with plans to identify locations, costs, and funding mechanisms for new facilities to help with the extreme overcrowding at DOC,” Allbaugh said.
On Thursday, state facilities were at 113-percent capacity. Even with criminal justice reforms enacted last session, the state’s prison population will grow by 2,367 inmates by 2026.
“We are simply bursting at the seams with inmates,” Allbaugh said.