Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: February 13, 2008
Sen. Jim Wilson, with Senators Kenneth Corn, Richard Lerblance and
expresses concerns regarding corrections funding on Wednesday at
Correctional Officers Worry Prison Crisis may Worsen with Latest
With Monday’s announcement that Legislators
will actually have $195 million less to spend for the coming budget,
employees with the State Department of Corrections worry their officers
will be placed in even greater danger as a result. Sen. Jim
Wilson said Tuesday the problem has been ignored far too long.
“The Department of Corrections always gets moved to the backburner
when lawmakers are scrambling for dollars,” said Wilson, D-Tahlequah.
“But we can no longer afford to balance the budget on the
backs of corrections employees. They’re working in dangerous
conditions and its only getting worse.”
Wilson noted during a public hearing two years ago at the State
Capitol corrections employees explained how dangerous the situation
had become, with one officer responsible for approximately 160 inmates,
and sometimes as many as 220.
Lt. William Weldon, a 22-year DOC correctional supervisor, said
he is extremely concerned about the safety of his officers.
“We’re working understaffed, with officers forced to
work double-shifts at most facilities. Morale is at an all-time
low because of our chronic funding problems and what seems to be
the lack of concern for our plight,” Weldon said. “I
can’t stress this enough—this is a dangerous situation
Wilson said even though the recent independent DOC audit validated
what he and others have been saying for years regarding the understaffing,
underfunding and inadequate facilities, he remains concerned that
those warnings would continue to go unheeded.
“When I worked for the Oklahoma Crime Commission, I was at
McAlester during the prison riots in the 1970’s. I never want
to see that happen again, but by ignoring their budget needs, we’re
repeating the same mistakes that caused those riots.”
For more information contact:
Senator Wilson's Office: (405) 521-5574