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State Board of Corrections Approves DOC 2020 Budget Request

05-Nov-2018

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections intends to ask the state legislature for a $1.57 billion dollar budget for the 2020 fiscal year, a budget request that the state Board of Corrections recently approved.

According to ODOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh, the request is "not a wish list," but instead is an accounting of what the Department of Corrections needs to adequately operate and maintain the state's prisons. Allbaugh further stated, "Oklahoma continues to send more people to prison, and it costs real money to house, look after, and provide those individuals medical care -- all of which we are required to do."

Included in the budget request is $884 million to add 5,200 beds to the state prison system. These funds would be used to expand existing facilities and to construct a medium-security men's facility. The state's prison population is presently at 113 percent capacity; it is expected to increase by nearly 2,700 by the year 2026.

Allbaugh addressed the need for additional beds, saying, "“We are bursting at the seams with over 27,000 inmates inside 24-facility system – and the state has made little progress on justice reform. As we’ve said before, reforms passed last session will help slow inmate population growth but do little to unseat Oklahoma as the world’s top incarcerator.”

Not only is space to house inmates an issue, but so is medical care. For example, the DOC has repeatedly asked for funding for hepatitis C treatment. Hepatitis C, frequently transmitted through intravenous drug use or unsafe sex, is one of the most common diseases in prison populations. A full course of treatment costs just under $30,000 per inmate. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is asking the state legislature for $91.7 million to treat inmates with Hepatitis C.

Finally, the state DOC is requesting $31.9 million for facilities maintenance and repair and $18.5 million in staff raises to bring pay in line with industry standards.

After years of revenue failures and budget cuts passed down from the state capital, many state agencies, including the Department of Corrections, have been eroded to bare bones. In order to adequately fund state agencies, the legislature is going to have to get creative and compromise during the 2019 legislative session.

 



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