Justin Jones has spent his career — nearly 40 years — in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and now is the agency's director. He has a pretty good feel for how the DOC is viewed by the Legislature.
“There's no political dividends, I think, for funding corrections,” Jones told The Oklahoman's editorial board recently. “So ‘whatever you can get by with' is just what you're going to get.”
That helps explain why, after signing a corrections reform bill last year that is designed to slow the growth of the state's inmate population, the governor has suggested the DOC receive a $1 million increase in its fiscal year 2014 budget. The message seems to be, “We dealt with corrections last year, now it's time to move on.”
But one piece of that reform bill, called the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, requires all inmates to have nine months of supervision once they're released — an effort to reduce the chances that they might reoffend and wind up back in prison. Presently, 51 percent of Oklahoma inmates are released with zero supervision.