In a sternly worded 15 page letter sent to Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh details serious missteps from the state's budget office making it look like the state saved millions more than it actually has.
In the letter, Allbaugh says the Office of Management and Enterprise Services overestimated the number of cases and time spent in state custody for thousands of Oklahoma inmates affected by a pair of criminal justice reform state questions passed in 2016.
Those were State Questions 780 and 781 which changed a number of felony charges to misdemeanors. Their goal was to take the strain off of DOC and the criminal justice system as a whole by reducing the number of Oklahomans sent to prison.
According to OMES, DOC has 27,492 cases affected by the passage of SQ780 and 781. However, Allbaugh's department said that number is closer to 3,055 cases. Allbaugh also notes that cases and inmates don’t translate directly because inmates can be charged with multiple crimes in multiple jurisdictions, which could inflate cost savings numbers inaccurately.
OMES officials estimate the state was able to save $60 million as a result of 780 and 781. But, Allbaugh and his spokesperson both said that's not even close to true.
"The... errors represent fundamental flaws in OMES understanding of the criminal justice system and in the calculation of averted costs," Allbaugh wrote.
When asked about how much money the state has actually saved, DOC spokesperson Matt Elliot said it's too early to know right now.
"Any benefit the state may realize... is likely an infinitesimally small percentage of what OMES estimated in that report,” Elliot wrote in an email Thursday morning.
In response to the letter, Governor Mary Fallin News 9 this statement in part, "As we work toward changing the way our state addresses the criminal justice system, it will be important to make sure all agencies are on the same page."
Fallin also assured that officials from both agencies will continue to work together. Allbaugh also said DOC will not lose any funding because of the savings report. Oklahoma prisons are still at 113 percent capacity.