Oklahoma's rate of imprisonment keeps rising

Oklahoma, which has seen its prison population increase steadily over the past several decades, incarcerated 648 residents per 100,000 people in 2012, according to the study released by the bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Justice. That's up 2.5 percent, from 632 in 2011.
BY SHAUN HITTLE Published: July 25, 2013
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The department received only a 1 percent increase in its budget for fiscal year 2014.

More Oklahoma inmates have been moved to private prisons.

Former state Speaker of the House Kris Steele, who helped craft the 2012 Justice Reinvestment Initiative — aimed at helping cut the prison population — said the state needs to take more steps to address the problem.

“We're going in the opposite direction,” Steele said.

The initiative received less funding than requested, and many of the provisions have not been implemented, he said.

“There are smarter, more effective ways” to deal with many offenders than solely incarceration,” Steele said.

He cited other states, such as Texas, that have used similar justice initiatives to reduce their prison population during the past couple of years.

In Oklahoma, with prison facilities nearly maxed out, “the trends are unsustainable,” Steele said.

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