State Corrections Department Concerned After Prison Fight In Say - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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State Corrections Department Concerned After Prison Fight In Sayre

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SAYRE, Oklahoma -

After a fight was stopped from becoming a riot at one of the state's newest prisons, alarms are being raised about just how desperate things are getting for Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

“It is a concern whenever you're understaffed and you have over 61,000 individuals in your custody and you have only a handful of people in each facility to protect the public. It is concerning,” Department of Corrections spokesman Alex Gerszewski said on Tuesday.

The fight, which happened Monday at the newly re-opened facility in Sayre, never got out of hand, Gerszewsi said.

One correctional officer was cut but was not seriously injured. Two inmates were injured. One was taken to a hospital and another was treated at the prison.

However, DOC officials are calling for “immediate action” to help take the strain off the system. Overcrowding, under-staffing and low pay are what officials say are contributing to low morale.

Gerszewski also said there is potentially a correlation to be made between those issues and incidents like the fight.

“Morale, right now, it's not in a place where we want it to be,” Gerzesewski said. “We want these guys to come in and feel as safe as they possibly can.”

Many of the state's prisons were never meant to be prisons at all, some are renovated hospitals or boys homes meant to house people, not guard them. In all, the department estimates a nearly $2 billion need for infrastructure repairs.

That need forcing the department to triple its budget, asking for more than a $1 billion this year.

“It's the result of just years and years of neglect on prisons,” Gerszewski said. 

In the end, officials say they can manage but their needs are urgent and they're hoping something is done before it's too late.

“There is call for concern and people do need to realize this is a situation that isn't getting better and it's time that we move forward,” he said.

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