Oklahoma State Board of Corrections
Recommendations for Controlling
Oklahoma's Prison Population
In House Bill 1483, the Oklahoma Board of Corrections was directed by the
State Legislature to present "recommendations for reducing prison population,
accomodating projected needs for prison population and cost-saving measures...."
The purpose -of this report is to present those recommendations in the context of
past and present prison population control efforts in Oklahoma and the rest of
The pressures of prison population growth nationwide have forced states to
investigate numerous alternatives to incarceration. Oklahoma is among those
states that have developed a variety of options for limiting prison population
while still providing effective sanctions for offenders. In fact, many of the
programs which are now being recognized and adopted elsewhere as effective means
of population control are already being used in Oklahoma.
At the time the request for recommendations was made by the Legislature,
prison population growth was a primary concern of the Department of Corrections.
However, because of the emergency "cap" legislation and programs such as that for
DUI offenders, the expansion of the House Arrest program and the increased
capacity of facilities, the need to invoke emergency release legislation has
been removed. It is expected that continued development and utilization of
options other than "cap" will make it unnecessary in the foreseeable future to
rely on emergency release of prisoners to control prison population. Indeed, the
recommendations presented here are made with the aim of maintaining the control
over prison population which has now been regained in Oklahoma.
It has been noted that three factors contribute to prison population
overcrowding: the number of offenders sent to prison, the length of time they
stay in prison, and the capacity of the prison to which they are sent. Over the
past decade, the numbers of persons being sent to prison have increased
drastically nationwide and new legislation has often created harsher sanctions
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