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Lawmaker files bill to abolish Oklahoma Board of Corrections

A state lawmaker has filed legislation that would do away with the state Board of Corrections and instead make the executive director of the state Correction Department accountable to the governor's office.
by Graham Lee Brewer Published: January 30, 2014
/articleid/3928546/1/pictures/1867450">Photo - State Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole <strong>Photo Provided</strong>
State Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole Photo Provided

At a Wednesday news conference, Fallin said she has yet to read the measure, but expressed frustration with the lack of communication and expedient reform at some agencies, including the Corrections Department.

“I haven't seen his particular bill, but I will tell you it's no secret in Oklahoma that there are a lot of major agencies where the governor has little or no authority to appoint a director, to help implement a vision or plan or create efficiencies or, frankly, even to look at funding,” Fallin said.

“I think it's important that if a governor is going to set a vision and set goals that are important and listen to the people ... as to what they want to address, then I have to have help with being able to form those plans.”

Current state Board of Corrections member and Secretary Steve Burrage also said he had not read the bill. Burrage said he could not give his opinion on the measure before reading it, but he said he understands how Newell and others can perceive the system as inefficient.

“I try to keep the governor informed of everything we're doing. In my opinion, I want things to happen, and I'm going to make them happen as quick as I possibly can, but I am a member, one member, of a board, you understand,” Burrage said.

He said he believes the board functions well.

“As far as things that would happen quicker, I could see where it could possibly happen quicker,” Burrage said, “as far as you having a request from the governor's office and a response from the director.”

by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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