- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections have indicated they will consider acquiring a new facility to accommodate a growing number of inmates.

The Board of Corrections on Thursday gave permission to Department of Corrections Interim Director Joe M. Allbaugh to begin the process of purchasing or leasing additional space. The options under consideration include two empty private facilities owned by the Corrections Corporation of America, Allbaugh told the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1VdelXU ).

Those empty facilities are the North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre, which has 2,400 beds, and the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, which has a capacity of 2,160.

“The director has been involved in some discussions with private prison operators in the state about the possibility of us leasing or buying or leasing to purchase one or more facilities,” Board of Corrections chairman Kevin Gross said.

If a new facility is leased, the department would employ its own workers to operate the facility, instead of paying a daily rate to a private prison, he said.

“If you are looking at beds, obviously those two facilities are standing open and unoccupied right now,” Allbaugh said. “That is a place to start. But there are other facilities in the state that we don’t know about yet that may have beds. And that is the purpose of talking to as many people as we possibility can.”

He said the department needs to proactively solve its inmate population problem. The department is operating at about 120 percent of capacity. Allbaugh said he’s not sure whether the department would have to close existing facilities to pay for the additional beds.

Allbaugh expects to provide the board with an update within the next 30 days.


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

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