KGOU

Joe Allbaugh

Oklahoma Supreme Court chambers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday a campaign to expand government health insurance for low-income residents can move forward. KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss the court's decision, which came just hours after hearing oral arguments.   

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh hopes prison reform doesn’t stop with the last round of Legislature’s last round of reform bills.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Every day, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh sits at his desk and tries to make a severely overcrowded, understaffed prison system work.

Joe Allbaugh is director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections was a frequent topic for lawmakers during this year’s legislative session. The department was given an additional $8.75 million to balance its books for fiscal year 2018 and more than $517 million for fiscal year 2019 that began July 1. 

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The colorless, odorless gas makes up 78 percent of our air.

Yet it is used in some assisted suicides in Europe. It is touted by some advocates for industry euthanasia of animals. And the gas – nitrogen – is what U.S. Air Force pilots are exposed to during high-altitude tests that gauge their reaction to reduced oxygen and can render them unconscious.

Now Oklahoma plans to use nitrogen in its death-penalty chamber.

 

Allison Herrera / KOSU

The number of people sentenced to Oklahoma prisons in 2017 fell slightly, but the state remains second in the nation in overall incarceration and could be ranked first by the end of this year.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections data shows that on the last working day of 2017, a total of 28,153 inmates were in state prisons, halfway houses or in jails awaiting transfer to prisons. That was a less than 1 percent decline from the end of 2016.

More than a century old, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester is a poster child for Oklahoma’s deteriorating prison system. Even the sign at its entry gate, with its missing letters, speaks to the infrastructure degradation and other problems insi
Ben Botkin / Oklahoma Watch

Padlocks are welded onto cell doors at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for when the electronic locks fail.

The state’s three prisons for women are at 129 percent of capacity, meaning inmates must sleep in temporary bunk beds in day rooms.

Shelves with thousands of inmate files jam what once was a basketball court at the Kate Barnard Correctional Center. It’s the backup for a three-decade-old software program used for recordkeeping.

INSAPPHOWETRUST / FLICKR

The Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a 1.25 percent sales tax on motor vehicles Thursday.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh
Sue Ogrocki / AP

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections wants out of the state’s unified information technology system. Corrections director Joe Allbaugh criticized how the Office of Management and Enterprise Services runs the IT system during an interim legislative hearing Monday.

The Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Inmates at a northeast Oklahoma prison are dealing with a waterline break that's affecting services. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins says the problem started over the weekend with a water leak on the grounds of the Dick Conner Correction Center in Osage County.

"We got the water restored, then there was a leak inside the community of Hominy,” Watkins said. “So they are working to fix that, but in the meantime, it brought down the water levels in the water tower at the facility, which is used to pressurize the water line."

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh
Sue Ogrocki / AP

The Oklahoma House of Representatives reversed itself Wednesday on a bill it defeated 48-44 on Monday. The new vote approves modifications of the requirements to become the head of the state Department of Corrections.

Under the bill’s language, the agency director no longer needs a master’s degree or five years experience in corrections. The changes make the Department of Corrections’ current Interim Director Joe Allbaugh eligible.

mikecogh / Flickr.com

Oklahoma’s Board of Corrections unanimously approved leasing a private prison in Sayre and consolidating 15 work release centers across the state Thursday, a decision that left many legislators scrambling and upset.

Under the five-year contract, the Department of Correction would transfer roughly 1200 inmates from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite to North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre. Inmates in work release programs across the state would be relocated to Granite.

Department of Corrections Interim Director Joe Allbaugh
Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Interim Director spoke to a crowded café in Oklahoma City Tuesday night. Joe Allbaugh addressed challenges in the prison system’s record keeping, inmate population and budget strains. 

Allbaugh praised the legislature for allocating nearly $28 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the Department of Corrections, but he said the agency is still set to see a multi-million dollar deficit by the end of the fiscal year.

Steven Buck
Provided / Oklahoma Watch

Under current state law, the new executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs appears ineligible to hold the job.

Also, the new Oklahoma Department of Corrections interim director appears ineligible to become the permanent director.

In an effort to smooth the issues, the Legislature is considering a Senate bill that would reduce the work experience requirements for both positions. That would move Steven Buck closer to qualifying by law for the job he was appointed to in January – executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

Oklahoma Capitol
ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders announced an agreement on Wednesday to help state schools and prisons avoid additional mid-year cuts. The state will withdraw $51 million from the Rainy Day Fund for the Department of Education and another $27.5 million for the Department of Corrections.

Joe Allbaugh
Greg Schaler / FEMA

State agency heads went before the Budget and Appropriations’ Public Safety Subcommittee meeting Thursday to argue their case as lawmakers try to close a huge budget hole. 

Department of Corrections Interim Director Joe Allbaugh spoke candidly about many of the challenges his department faces. The state prison system is currently at 122 percent capacity, and he said DOC might need to convert current classrooms to open-bay dorms to house offenders.

Joe Allbaugh
Greg Schaler / FEMA

A former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be the new interim director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

The Board of Corrections named Joe Allbaugh to the post at its meeting on Thursday in McAlester.