For Immediate Release: November 3, 2009
Sen. Johnson Commends DOC Director Jones
on Prudent Use of Funds
Sen. Constance N. Johnson on Monday commended Justin
Jones, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC),
for prudent use of taxpayer dollars following a recent announcement
of targeted budget cuts within the agency. DOC recently announced
that it would reduce its private prison space contracts by five
percent beginning this month.
DOC officials said the cuts were a response to declining state
revenues, as all state agencies were recently ordered to reduce
their budgets by five percent for the third consecutive month. Johnson
said the targeted cuts would allow the agency to make it through
the most recent round of budget reductions without furloughs or
any compromise in safety standards at state corrections facilities.
The agency has been on a hiring freeze since January, and anticipates
a funding deficit of $9 million by the end of the fiscal year.
“Director Jones should be commended rather than criticized
for being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and for working with
private contractors to address these huge revenue shortfalls,”
said Johnson, D-Oklahoma County. “He has been successful in
guiding the agency through a tumultuous funding crisis and managing
its budget to avoid state employee furloughs and maintain standards
at our corrections facilities. We greatly appreciate the efforts
made by Director Jones, the Board of Corrections, and DOC staff.”
Johnson noted that prior to asking private prisons to take per
diem reductions, the Department reduced full-time employees to 77
percent of authorized time, instituted a hiring freeze, reduced
its overall budget by 5 percent, offered voluntary employee retirement
buyouts, and eliminated a host of other costs and programs.
“The criticism that has been leveled against the agency
for its response to these budget restrictions is perplexing,”
Johnson said. “Director Jones’ decision becomes even
more sensible, given that a recent prison study revealed the cost
of housing an inmate in a maximum-security, state-owned prison to
be cheaper than the cost of doing so in a private prison in Oklahoma.
The Department of Corrections has certainly taken the recession
and budget reductions seriously, and has responded prudently.”
For more information contact:
Sen. Johnson: 405-521-5531