Oklahoma City- Governor Frank Keating today signed an executive order declaring a prison population state of emergency. It will permit the Department of Corrections to release certain non-violent inmates under the Specialized Supervision Program (SSP).
"I am never comfortable doing this, but I am left with no choice but to relieve some of the overcrowding in our prison system. I will never, however, allow the early release of any violent offenders. That's why I have asked the Department of Corrections to come up with a list of inmates eligible for this release based on very strict criteria. We want to make sure the violent inmates and habitual offenders stay right where they belong: in prison," the Governor said.
The eligibility criteria devised by the Governor's office allows only inmates serving time for first offenses that are non-violent to be eligible for release. "I want to make sure their entire adult lives are checked, no matter where they are from, to make sure there is no history of incarcerations for violent offenses," the Governor said. A rough estimate of the number of inmates who will meet this criteria is 250. The first SSP release could come as early as August.
In addition to strict eligibility requirements, the order from Governor Keating also calls for strict supervision of these inmates once they are released. That includes completion of Adult Basic Education, drug and alcohol abuse treatment and other programs.
"This is obviously a partial short-term fix to a long-term problem. Last year we authorized the state's first ever use of private prison space and I will continue to call on the legislature to appropriate the money necessary to continue and expand that," the Governor said.###
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