Prisons cancel county jail contracts to cut costs


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is canceling contracts to house state inmates at county jails in a cost-saving move.

Director Joe Allbaugh said Wednesday the agency is looking for ways to close a projected $3 million budget hole through June 30, the end of the fiscal year. It’s part of a revenue shortfall of $34.6 million due to lagging state revenues.

The county jails charged $32 per day to house the inmates. The move should save about $775,000 through the end of the year.

The agency will move 224 inmates in 10 county jails to state prisons. The counties are Choctaw, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Jefferson, Le Flore, Nowata, Okmulgee, Roger Mills and Tillman.

An additional 18 inmates will remain in jails in Greer and Marshall counties.

In other budget woes, the commissioner of Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety is warning of “crippling” effects if lawmakers move ahead with plans to slash funding, including the closure of two dozen driver’s license stations and four weeks of furloughs for employees.

Commissioner Michael Thompson released a list Wednesday of some of the cuts his agency would be forced to make if his budget shrank by 15 percent. It includes the elimination of the Highway Patrol’s motorcycle division.

House fiscal analysts are mulling cuts to state agencies as deep as 15 percent if lawmakers don’t approve new revenue sources this year.

Although it’s uncertain what the final budget agreement will look like, the Legislature is facing a hole of about $870 million, or about 12 percent of state spending.

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