OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Department of Corrections is asking the legislature for more than $800-million to build two new prisons. That’s at a time when lawmakers are already expecting a roughly $700-million budget shortfall. 

In all, The Department of Corrections is asking for $1.535 billion in its budget, much of that money to provide pay increases for staff, and more room to house inmates.

Right now, Oklahoma is second only to Louisiana in terms of inmate population.

“But that’s going to change. They’re going to lose that number one status because they passed criminal justice earlier in 2017,” said Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh.

So, to accommodate all those inmates, Allbaugh said the state has to pay for improvements to old prisons and add new prisons.

“Two prisons.” Allbaugh said, “One male, one female – 2,000 to 2,600 beds. We need those now.”

Allbaugh said the state also has to keep up with the increasing costs of medical care at its prisons.

“These folks have the best healthcare going... They need something they get it. We have several folks that cost us over $350,000 a year just for their medication.”

And, Allbaugh said, corrections officers need a pay raise. The $12.78 they make an hour isn’t enough to keep goon people on board.

“These folks can also go to 7-11, OnCue and make 15 bucks plus an hour. It’s the number one killer in being able to fill our slots.” Allbaugh said, “We keep promising we’re going to do a pay raise. We never do it. We never do it.”