News 9's Inside Look At 110-Year-Old State Prison In Granite
GRANITE, Oklahoma - The State House of Representatives is expected to take up the $7.5 billion budget proposal Friday. It includes more money for the Department of Corrections, but lacks the $800 million requested build the two new prisons the agency needs because of an expanding population.
The 110-year-old state prison in Granite is falling apart. There are about 1,000 inmates there. What they learn in there today will determine what kind of neighbors they are tomorrow.
And these are the conditions they’re learning in - rusted rebar. Dark, dank conditions. Filth. And walls and ceilings crumbling.
“The mortar was put in over a hundred years ago and over time it just calcifies and deteriorated,” said DOC Regional Director Greg Williams.
The facility’s electrical system is a bird’s nest of wires.
“As this building continues to deteriorate it jeopardizes a lot of the electrical services, the power cables, cables and telephone wires and those kind of things,” said Williams.
For the inmates, this is their last stop before going home.
“So, this is where we start to really try to get an inmates attitude and their mindset back to that of a citizen. Most of these guys will be home in 10 months from now,” said Williams.
But there isn’t enough staff to adequately prepare them for the outside.
“Since July, we ran 69 people through this program with three staff members. If I had more staff I could run 120,” said program manager Robert Stultz.
Williams added, “Our kitchen staff is half staffed right now so guess who’s in the kitchen? Officers. Case managers.”
Inmate Jonathan Howard is articulate, funny, and smiles when he talks about his two children. He’s doing nine years.
“Possession of marijuana, possession of CDS (Controlled dangerous substances) Xanax and I had some burglary twos back in the day and they kinda [sic] just ran all that together. And instead of sending me to rehab, they decided prison was the best thing going,” said Howard, adding he is not a violent offender.
And that’s the case with a lot of the prisoners. They have psych or drug issues and, often, because of a lack of funding, don’t get the treatment they need.
“If we can get rid of the addiction, and give them tools to deal with their addiction so they won’t come back to the system,” said Warden Dwayne Janis.
Williams added, “Some people need to be in prison while other people do not need to be in prison. Some people get better while they’re in prison, but most do not.”
Howard looks forward to getting out. He wants to start a landscaping company. But more important, he wants to start being a dad to his kids. To lead them away from the path he took.
“It sucks for a lot of people here, getting sent here and getting sent away from their children,” said Howard. “Everybody needs a chance. Even if you messed up before.”