The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Thursday it has set another population record with 63,009 people in the department's system. This is the third significant population development within the agency in less than a year.
“As you’ll remember on December 16, 2016 we reached 61,012 in our system for the first time in our state’s correctional system history and on April 26, 2017 we announced another record of 62,000,” DOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh said in a DOC release. “Now we have more than 63,000 in the system, that’s another milestone for us in just 8 ½-months. What are we to do?”
ODOC population as of Thursday:
· 34,710 – Supervision (GPS monitored, community supervision, probation/parole)
· 26,730 – Incarcerated
· 1,569 - County jail backup (Awaiting transport to DOC)
The Department of Corrections says it is researching options available to address the population numbers.
Oklahoma consistently ranks near the top of U.S. states for overall incarceration rates and leads in female incarceration.
According to the Oklahoma department of Corrections, the number of women incarcerated in the state rose by 9.5 percent in fiscal year 2016. A 2011 briefing on female incarceration prepared by ODOC showed 28 of Oklahoma's 77 counties incarcerate women at 2 to 3 times the national average.
More than one-fourth of Oklahoma's inmates are held in private prisons, according a report compiled by The Sentencing Project. Based on 2015 statistics, 10 percent of the state's prison population is serving life sentences.
In April Albaugh said more funding is the only answer for the agency's immediate problems.
"Programs are the way to get us out of this pickle long-term," he said. "In the short-term the only thing we can do is hope and pray the legislature will step up and give us the necessary money to acquire, rent, beg, or borrow more additional beds to handle the influx."