Oklahoma Department Of Corrections Halts Awarding Credits For Good Behavior
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections intends to stop reducing prisoners’ sentences in exchange for good behavior and their participation in programs designed to help them restart their lives after prison.
The agency announced the decision after getting an informal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office.
The corrections agency says it will stop offering earned credits in these particular cases on November 1. Earned credits help prisoners shave significant amounts of time off their prison sentences and they’re a tool Oklahoma prisons have used to incentivize positive behavior among prisoners.
But the guidance from the Attorney General’s Office says state law doesn’t give the corrections agency authority to grant prisoners credits simply for good behavior and participating in reentry programs.
In a news release, the agency said its legal team first flagged the potential issue prompting a question to be sent to the Attorney General’s Office. A spokesperson for the Attorney General says they will prepare a formal legal opinion on the matter soon.
There will still be ways prisoners can earn time off their sentences such as taking classes and working jobs in prison. The agency will stop awarding credits to prisoners who get copies of their birth certificate and social security card before their release. And prisoners won’t earn credits when they’re placed on an electronic monitoring system.
The Department of Corrections estimates the vast majority of prisoners affected by the policy change will lose 5 to 6 days worth of credit each month.
StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.