“This is what we need,” Department of Corrections seeking $1.57 billion in funding

OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections say they are in desperate need of increased funding in order to safely house the state’s prison population.

On Tuesday, the state Board of Corrections unanimously approved the Oklahoma Department of Corrections 2020 budget request. The request will now go before state lawmakers, who will decide exactly how much money the agency will receive next fiscal year.

The $1.57 billion request includes $884 million to add 5,200 beds, $91.7 million for inmate Hepatitis C treatments and $31.9 million for facility repairs, maintenance and critical needs. Also, the request includes $18.5 million for staff pay raises.

“This request is not a wish list,” ODOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh said. “This is what we need. 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.”

Officials say Oklahoma’s inmate population is expected to grow by 2,367 inmates by 2026.

Currently, state facilities are at 113 percent capacity.

“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,” Allbaugh said. “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.”

Agency officials say they hope state lawmakers consider the budget request in its entirety.

Last session, ODOC received $517 million from lawmakers after asking for $1.53 billion.

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