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New state corrections director to focus on lowering Oklahoma prison population

At his first Corrections Board meeting as director of the state Corrections Department, Robert Patton said addressing Oklahoma’s rising prison population is one of his primary goals.
by Graham Lee Brewer Published: March 7, 2014

At his first Board of Corrections meeting as director of the state Corrections Department, Robert Patton said tackling Oklahoma’s rising prison population is a top priority.

Patton, who worked more than two decades for the Arizona Department of Corrections, started his new job in Oklahoma in mid-February. He told the board at the meeting Thursday he has established a population management team to look at ways to reduce inmate numbers.

After the meeting, Patton told reporters the team is looking at a variety of ways to reduce the prison population, including looking at agency policy to make sure the department is following statute and processing inmates through the parole process adequately.

“So, in other words, if the courts have sentenced you to a certain sentence where you can earn credits or whatever it is to say you can be released this certain date, are we making sure that you are released on that date,” Patton said.

A bill working its way through the state House of Representatives by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, would allow early release credits for prisoners now required to serve 85 percent of their sentence.

Patton would not comment on whether he supported the bill, but he said it made sense and was a practice used in the Arizona prison system. He said he also is considering ways to improve the parole monitoring system to make sure offenders do not re-offend.

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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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