For Immediate Release:
July 26, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY- Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, said House Republicans continue to turn their backs on public safety in Oklahoma with their latest fuzzy math scheme they claim will help recruitment efforts at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC).
“Their plan calls on DOC to give correctional officers one time sign on bonuses with money the department does not have,” Corn said. “DOC has not offered sign on bonuses in the past and they can’t offer them now because they simply do not have the funds to do so. The Republican’s so called ‘recruitment plan’ proves that House leaders do not have a realistic grasp on this public safety emergency - the seeds of which can be attributed to a Republican scheme to warehouse prisoners in profit driven private facilities.
“The House Republican plan fails to recognize the fact that Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons across the state, does not house maximum security prisoners,” Corn said. “For Republicans to compare conditions in private prisons to public prisons is like trying to compare apples to oranges. Further more, to tout the fact that these prison guards make less money than DOC workers shows Republicans want to deprive working families of livable wages - workers who put their lives between the bad guys and Oklahoma families day in and day out.”
Corn said Senate Democrats spent countless hours coming up with a comprehensive plan to address the chronic problems that plague DOC and have called on Republicans to do the same. Corn said even Senate Republicans laid a plan on the table similar to Senate Democrats and are willing to address the issue during a special session.
Despite the initial flaws of the Republican House plan, Senator Corn is encouraged that house leaders are finally recognizing that a do-nothing approach to public safety is not acceptable to the citizens of Oklahoma.
“Senate Democrats want to do more than throw money at a chronic problem and that is why our plan offers both short and long term solutions to address turn over and low pay for correctional officers as well as other inadequacies within Oklahoma prisons,” The Poteau Democrat said.