As more than 400 of Oklahoma's older, more stable, inmates are being moved to a remote prison two hours west of Oklahoma City, families say good prisoners are being punished by a bad system.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie, said the move is in the best interests of the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite and the entire system.
“We understand that change is difficult to deal with and it may add travel time, but we have to do what's best for the agency and what's best for that facility,” Massie said.
At the heart of the move is a larger problem.
The prison system has a very hard time finding and retaining employees.
The Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite — a medium-security prison that can house roughly 800 inmates — could today fill 35 guard positions if it could find people willing to take the jobs.
Massie said that puts the prison at about 48 percent of its budgeted staffing level.
“It's real difficult to attract staff out there,” he said. “They're losing a lot of people to the oil field where they can start out at about $10 an hour more.”
The idea is that swapping out younger inmates with offenders over the age of 40 with good behavior will create an environment that is easier to manage for an understaffed facility.
“Generally, they're a little bit more stable,” Massie said. “They just kind of age out of a lot of acting out kind of behavior that you might see with younger inmates.”
A source whose incarcerated family member could be affected by this said many are viewing this as punishment for good behavior.