Request includes staff raises, 2 medium-security prisons, and expanded programs.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Corrections will request $1.53 billion in state funding for Fiscal Year 2019, including $813 million for two new medium security prisons. Other priorities include support to expand re-entry, mental health, and substance abuse programs, officials announced.
The request, which was unanimously approved by ODOC’s Board of Corrections on Tuesday, is a more than $1 billion increase over the department’s Fiscal Year 2018 appropriation of $485 million. It includes more than $107 million in repairs to its facilities, and $10 million for across-the-board employee raises.
“The days of bailing wire and pliers are over,” ODOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh said. “We have to fund this agency properly. This budget represents exactly what our needs are right now.”
The state legislature will consider the request as it does those of other state agencies in the upcoming legislative session next year.
ODOC requested $1.6 billion for similar needs for FY 2018, but received $485 million from the state.
Two new medium-security prisons
Criminal justice reform has not produced appreciable results in lowering the state’s incarceration rate – nor is it expected to in the near future. Thus, ODOC is requesting more than $813 million for two new prisons to meet projected increases in individuals sentenced to prison.
Maintenance and repairs
Just eight of 24 ODOC facilities were built to house inmates. Many state prisons are aging and need major repairs – from broken locks on cell doors to roofing and security cameras.
Among these is the state’s oldest prison, McAlester’s Oklahoma State Penitentiary, built in 1908. Its needs total more than $14 million and include: new sewer, water and gas lines, new air conditioning, road repairs, and lighting.
Jackie Brannon Correctional Center, also in McAlester, needs more than $17.2 million in repairs and improvements, including $3.8 million to its water treatment plant to comply with state Department of Environmental Quality standards.
5-percent across-the-board staff pay raises
ODOC employs people throughout the state, especially in rural areas. Correctional Officers start at $12.78 an hour, several dollars below what neighboring states pay. While a 5 percent raise will not resolve the problem, it is a start.
$3 million+ for education, substance abuse treatment, and re-entry
Inmates’ programming needs are not being met. Accordingly, this request includes funding for teachers, treatment program staff, and materials.
Additionally, most inmates will re-enter society. This request includes $1.4 million to hire 30 case managers to assist inmates with re-entry.
Better pay for medical and dental care providers
Rural Oklahoma suffers from a critical shortage of healthcare professionals. As many ODOC facilities are in rural areas, it is difficult to attract doctors, dentists, and others to these areas to treat inmates.
This budget request includes $6.7 million to provide more competitive pay for medical, mental, and dental health care providers to treat inmates, all of whom the department is obligated to provide care.
$5 million to replace aging fleet vehicles
Due to funding constraints, ODOC has delayed for decades replacing its vehicles. Many are no longer cost-effective to maintain (the department recently surplused a bus with more than 2 million miles).
The FY 2019 request includes $5 million to replace vehicles averaging 200,000+ miles, expand the fleet to meet facility needs, continue providing preventive maintenance, and development a replacement schedule.
Click here for a detailed breakdown of ODOC’s FY 2019 budget request.