Halfway houses ease prison overcrowding, save money, Oklahoma Corrections Department official says

by Andrew Knittle Published: July 15, 2012
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Although halfway houses have changed dramatically through the years — morphing from intimate dwellings with a handful of wayward souls to large, institution-like facilities run by private companies — they have become an important source of savings for the cash-strapped state Corrections Department in recent years.

Jerry Massie, department spokesman, said the state contracts with eight halfway houses for its male inmate population.

According to the Corrections Department website, the facilities can house anywhere from 40 inmates to more than 300.

A halfway house operated by Avalon Correctional Services Inc., in Tulsa, can house up to 325 inmates, giving it the largest capacity in the state.

The latest facility count available on the correction department's website shows there are roughly 1,100 inmates in halfway houses. Total capacity is 1,482, records show.

Overall, 25,853 inmates are in Corrections Department custody. An additional 24,000 are under the department's supervision through probation and parole arrangements.

Inmates can work, pay

Massie said inmates doing time in halfway houses, which typically boast employment percentages in the upper 90s, save the department thousands of dollars each day.

A typical inmate under the purview of the department costs about $45 per day, Massie said. Prisoners in halfway houses cost only about $32 per day.

Massie said halfway houses in the Corrections Department network — five in Oklahoma City, two in Tulsa and one in Enid — all are operated and staffed by private companies.

“There are no DOC employees working at these places,” Massie said, adding that the inmates are forced to pay some of their wages back to stay at the halfway house.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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