- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections has temporarily banned news media from bringing cameras or any other recording equipment inside its prisons.

The new policy differs from previous department rules, which usually allowed access for photographers and videographers, provided they went through security checks and requests were made far enough in advance.

The temporary ban came after the Tulsa World requested to bring photographers inside prisons for two interviews, the newspaper reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1kCJHp1 ). Corrections officials instead said a reporter would be allowed to conduct the interviews, so long as no recording equipment was brought into the facility.

Newly appointed DOC Executive Director Robert Patton says the equipment ban would be temporary while he reviews and possibly revises department policies. He said he’s been “slammed” with more than a dozen interview requests since taking office earlier this year, so he reviewed current policy on news cameras inside prisons and determined he’s “not comfortable” with it.

“It’s not cutting off media access,” Patton said. He said he’s making sure the facilities are safe, staff resources aren’t diverted to search the camera equipment and sensitive security equipment won’t be captured in photos or videos.

Agency spokesman Jerry Massie told the newspaper that processing camera equipment in and out of a facility “is very staff intensive.”

“More importantly, we need to ensure that any security function not be recorded or filmed in a way that may jeopardize the safety of our facilities,” Massie wrote in an email.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com