If Oklahoma wants to remain among the national leaders in the male incarceration rate, and No. 1 in the number of females behind bars, “then the master plan ... should indicate how you're going to fund it,” Jones told The Oklahoman's editorial board in 2009. “If you don't want to do that, then let's start looking at systemic changes in the way we fundamentally administer public safety, because other states have been very successful about it.”
These views don't square with a Legislature that prefers a tough-on-crime approach to corrections. Sentencing reform has been a nonstarter for years. A bill signed in 2012 that was designed to save the DOC money, reduce recidivism rates and help local law enforcement has been only tepidly embraced. There appear to be no real advocates at the Capitol for doing things differently in this arena.
Jones' departure isn't a surprise, given the events of this spring. His successor is sure to be someone with whom Fallin is more comfortable. This person will be asked to manage a system that's bursting with prisoners who are housed in aging facilities and guarded by underpaid and outnumbered officers. It's one of the most difficult jobs in state government, with no real prospects of that tag changing any time soon.