OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma prison wardens are facing an uphill battle due to a lack of funding and overcrowding in prisons. Both are leading to dangerous conditions.
“We had major security issues with not being able to secure and lock down the facility,” said Warden Kameron Harvanek, with the Mack Alford Correctional Center.
All of our state's correctional centers have seen a major increase in inmates and the prisons are running out of room.
“In July 2014, the agency increased Crabtree's temporary bed population by 124 , and then again in January '15, increased our temporary population to 134,” said Warden Jason Bryant.
An increase in inmates means higher costs.
“So that increased our transport for specialty care assignments, the increase in those with other transport court hearings, discharges,” said Bryant.
DOC director Joe Allbaugh has asked lawmakers for more money and more prisons but instead he only received more inmates.
In 2016, the state spent over $128 million housing state prisoners in county jails. And that will have to continue unless more prisons are built.
He's planning to make the same request next year.
“Next year, F.Y. 19 we're going to ask for three prisons, two for males, one for female,” Allbaugh said.
Three new prisons will cost millions and Allbaugh warns what could happen without more funding.
“The Department of Corrections, to a certain extent, is the Titanic. It's already hit the iceberg,” said Allbaugh.
If Director Allbaugh gets his wish for more prisons, operating them will cost the state over $700 million dollars over 10 years.