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Study Suggests Oklahoma Officer To Offender Ratio Unsafe

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In Oklahoma, for every one corrections officer, there are 11.7 offenders. Compare that to the national average of one officer for every 5.5 offenders. In Oklahoma, for every one corrections officer, there are 11.7 offenders. Compare that to the national average of one officer for every 5.5 offenders.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

On the job, Oklahoma corrections officers are outnumbered 11 to one. The starting pay for those officers is $4 shy of the national average. Those are two findings some say need to be corrected.

"There's a problem. It's taxing on the body and taxing on the family," said Sgt. James Caskey.

Sgt. James Caskey is tired after just getting off a 12 hour shift at Joseph Harp Correctional Center.

"Like I've said, I've been up all night," said Sgt. Caskey. "6 p.m. yesterday to 6 a.m. this morning."

Sgt. Caskey now has 48 hours to recoup after working yet another 60-plus-hour work week.

"Some people feel that's the norm and that's what we're expected to do. I don't think so," said Sgt. Caskey.

Neither did the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, which found our state has the worst officer to offender ratio out of 49 states.

"We knew the numbers were going to be bad, we just didn't know how bad," said OCP Executive Director Sean Wallace.

In Oklahoma, for every one corrections officer, there are 11.7 offenders. Compare that to the national average of one officer for every 5.5 offenders.

"Do I respect those numbers? Yes. Is it worse now than what it should be? Yes," Wallace said.

Sean Wallace and the OCP point to the budget for the reason behind the ratio.

"We've either had budget cuts or a stand still budget since fy08," Wallace said.

Looking back at the state budgets, in the Fiscal Year of 2008, the Department of Corrections had a budget just over $477 million.

In 2010, it peaked at $503 million and the budget projected for 2014 is just under $465 million, which makes for a total budget cut since 2010 just over $38 million.

"The problem just keeps getting worse and something must be done and it is going to take money," said Wallace.

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