Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People


Department of Corrections

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Other State Workers Feel Ignored As Teacher Walkout Continues

Jason Page and Paul Mullaney inside the state Capitol on Tuesday.

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

Oklahoma Plans To Resume Executions With Nitrogen Gas

Attorney General Mike Hunter and Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh speak at a March 2018 press conference about the state's plans to use nitrogen gas to execute death row inmates.

Oklahoma wants to start executing prisoners again and officials want to use nitrogen gas. Oklahoma would be the first state to use nitrogen for an execution. The state ordered a moratorium on executions in October 2015 after major problems with three lethal injections.

Will Pay Raises Keep State Prison Guards Out of Oklahoma’s Oil Fields?


Oklahoma’s oil and gas boom has been hard on non-energy businesses, which are having a tough time competing for employees. “Help Wanted” signs are going unanswered in western Oklahoma, where gas station clerks, cashiers and even Dairy Queen workers are leaving their posts for more lucrative opportunities in the oil patch. It’s been especially tough on state prisons, which [...]

StateImpact Oklahoma on OETA: Private Prison, Public Policy

Logan Layden sat down with our partners over at OETA to discuss the North Fork private prison in Sayre with host Dick Pryor. North Fork provides hundreds of jobs for the small city, which also receives money from the prison’s owner, Corrections Corporation of America. North Fork houses only inmates from California, and officials there say they’re bringing [...]

Rural Oklahoma Town Faces Uncertainty As California Inmates Head Home


The North Fork Correctional Facility in Oklahoma is filled with more than 2,000 inmates, all from California. And that’s brought an economic boost to the small town of Sayre. But California is reducing its prison population and recently announced plans to bring its inmates back home. Local business owner Lori Herring moved to Sayre five [...]

The Public Costs of a Private Prison Riot in Oklahoma


When California ran out of space to house its growing inmate population, it turned to Corrections Corporation of America, which owns private prisons in 16 states, including Oklahoma. Now there are more than 2,000 Californians locked up at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre. The arrangement wasn’t supposed to cost Oklahoma anything, but a [...]

Cuts in Inmate Education May Cost Oklahoma Taxpayers Later


About 8,000 people are released from Oklahoma prisons each year, and employment improves an offender’s odds of not returning, criminologists and corrections officials say. State prisons prepare inmates for the workforce through education and jobs skills training, which reduces recidivism and, ultimately, costs to taxpayers. But after years of state budget cuts, prison classrooms have [...]

Visualized: Oklahoma is a Leader in Locking People Up


Oklahoma is a national leader in putting people behind bars, and the state sits near the top of the list in every measure of state prisoners per capita. Explore incarceration in each state with our interactive maps.

Why Oklahoma Prisons are Understaffed and Always Hiring

Prison Guard

Oklahoma prisons are hiring. Being a guard is a full-time job — with benefits. And it’s a gig that comes with some measure of job security. So why do public and private prisons have such a hard time filling positions given the current economy? “It’s a rough life,” James Reed, deputy warden of the R.B. [...]

Comment from a Former Convict: ‘Give Me a Chance’

Inmate running a lathe

Oklahoma imprisons more people per-capita than almost every other state in the nation. We lead the pack when it comes to incarcerating women, and the state spends a lot of taxpayer money on prisons — more than state cops and courts combined. About 8,000 people leave state prisons every year, and a big part of [...]

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