The Department of Corrections is concerned about prison safety after Oklahoma finance officials ordered an additional 4 percent budget cut to state agencies.
The total cut to state agencies is now at 7 percent, which totals more than $27.5 million to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, officials said.
After the Oklahoma Board of Corrections monthly meeting in Oklahoma City, Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh issued a statement, saying the situation is becoming dire as they look for more areas to cut.
Allbaugh said furloughs will be a last resort. However, they have frozen all purchases, aside from the bare essentials like food and clothing and they have stopped hiring in critical positions.
“We are in a dangerous situation and cutting deeper into the agency's budget is a serious risk to public safety and the safety of the men and women who go to work on the prison yards every day,” said Allbaugh. “With the current situation at hand, the department will ask for an addition to the supplemental previously requested. We are in the process of drafting a letter that requests a $38.7 million supplemental to get us through the remainder of this fiscal year.”
Corrections Board Chairman Kevin Gross said with a prison population continuing to expand and with more budget cuts on the way, the agency is out of room and will be out of money soon.
“As of today, our state prison population is at 123 percent, we have converted all of the available day rooms, gymnasiums and most places offering treatment to housing areas,” said Gross. “We can’t keep cutting from nothing. We are down to the bare minimum and are setting ourselves up for something to happen.”