Decades of neglect underpins $1.65 billion prisons request

prison

OKLAHOMA CITY –  Oklahoma’s chronically overcrowded and deteriorating prisons are seeking nearly $1.65 billion next year to help reverse what Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh says has been decades of deferred maintenance and neglect.

The budget request is more than three times larger than the $483 million budget appropriated for the current fiscal year.

It seeks $10 million for a 5 percent salary increase for corrections workers and more than $123 million to repair defective equipment and structures at 17 state prisons and six community corrections centers.

It also would spend almost $850 million on two new 2,000-bed medium security prisons to accommodate prison’s projected population growth over the next 10 years.

Some state lawmakers say they are sympathetic to the needs but that the request is unrealistic following budget shortfalls.