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Bill Aims At Lowering Costs For Corrections Department

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A new bill set for a Senate committee hearing on Thursday could help the state corrections department lower the costs of medical and overcrowding, lawmakers said.

Rep. Greg Babinec, R-Cushing, is the author of House Bill 1338. If passed, he said offenders who are 50 years of age or older, deemed “medically frail” by the Department of Corrections, and serving time for a non-violent offense could go before the pardon and parole board.

“Take for example, there’s an inmate, maybe at Mabel Bassett, who is medically frail, who has severe osteoporosis. She might be able to lay in  bed and then in the morning she might be able to sit up, but she certainly couldn’t stand up,” he explained.

Babinec said DOC pays about $3,000 per year per inmate, ages 50 to 68 and about $20,000 per year for each older inmate -- just for medical bills.

He said right now about 1,800 prisoners statewide would be eligible for the hearing.

“Yes, this will save a lot of money, but also there’s a little bit of compassion in there too. These people that are medically frail just taking up a bed that a violent offender could be in … I think it’s the right thing to do, to move people out of the system if they’re non-violent. And let’s put a violent offender in that bed,” he said.

A provision in the bill would require the victims in these cases to be notified if the offender is granted a hearing.

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