Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: August 16, 2007
Senator Jeff Rabon
Rabon Proposes Construction of New Correctional Facility
Senator Jeff Rabon on
Thursday said Oklahoma has reached a “fork in the road” on the issue
of prison overcrowding and is proposing the construction of a 2,500
inmate facility as part of a long-term plan to address lingering
problems facing the Department of Corrections.
The 5,200 acres occupied by the Howard McCleod Correctional Center
in Atoka would serve as the location for the proposed facility, with
construction costs estimated at nearly $170 million.
“The construction of a new facility would ultimately save the state
money by reducing the amount we spend on private prisons,” said
Rabon, D-Hugo. “The cost of replacing and increasing the amount of
beds currently needed at the state penitentiary in McAlester is
estimated at $160 million. Building a new facility is a short-term
expenditure that could lead to long-term solutions guaranteeing that
our taxpayer dollars are being utilized efficiently.”
Rabon said a comparison between the amount spent annually on private
prisons and the estimated cost of debt service on bonds to fund the
construction of the facility suggests the state would save money by
proceeding with the project.
“We need to find a long-term solution to both the funding problems
facing the Department of Corrections and our problem with
overcrowding,” Rabon said. “The construction of this facility is a
good starting point to initiate reform.”
Rabon added that a forthcoming audit of the Department of
Corrections should provide the Legislature with additional
information that will help address the agency’s long-term funding
problems, and that certain sentencing guidelines may also need to be
re-examined to relieve prison overcrowding.
“While being tough on crime and locking criminals up, we’ve failed
to adequately address the funding needs of our Corrections
Department and it’s become an emergency situation,” Rabon said.
“We’re paying private prisons and we’re paying county jails for bed
space but we’re not spending our money on a long-term solution.
We’ve reached a fork in the road where we have to address this
problem responsibly, or continue wasting taxpayer dollars and
putting our correctional officers at risk.”
For more information, contact:
Senator Rabon's Office: (405) 521-5614