M. Scott Carter reports on politics, legislation and other issues from the State Capitol.
Reacting to a story published by Oklahoma Watch, state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, Friday criticized the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, calling the agency “a ship adrift without a captain or a first mate, rudderless, with no apparent destination.”
Oklahoma Watch published a report that the Department of Corrections had quietly modified its policy on early-release credits for violent and sex offenders to relieve pressure on crowded prison cells.
“To date, more than three dozen prisoners released through restored credits have subsequently been accused of new crimes, according to a sampling of court and jail-roster records checked by Oklahoma Watch reporters,” Morrissette’s media statement said. “The first function of government is to protect its citizens. The DOC is failing at this responsibility.”
Morrissette, a member of the state House Public Safety Committee, said DOC’s own records show it can afford a staffing level of just 67 percent at its penal institutions.
He said that DOC should pay its correctional officers better “instead of spending shrinking tax dollars on duplicate administrative officers,” such as hiring a communication Director when the agency already has a veteran public information officer.