Audit reveals problems in state Dept. of Corrections
Money management, computer problems, and massive under-staffing are all problems outlined in a 40-page audit on the state's Dept. of Corrections. "There's a lot of issues that we have and we spend a lot of time dealing with them," said D.O.C. spokesperson Jerry Massie.Massie says staff at the D.O.C agree with all the findings in the audit and are working to fix them. For example, relying on county jails to house extra inmates. "We brought the jail backlog down from around 1900 to 160," he said. And the audit recommends they replace a computer system that's almost unusable. "In many cases the computer systems so bad they keep track of it in paper file folders," said State Auditor Gary JonesStaffing levels are at 60 percent in state prisons, the audit revealed."We need to do a better job at recruiting and getting the word out that it's a good place to work," Massie said.And the food program is currently not legal. Prisons are supposed to buy food from one, central place. Right now they're buying as individual facilities. Massie says staff did not even know about that state statute. But they're working now to alter the program so they can centralize their food purchases.Despite the problems, auditors say the results are not all the D.O.C's fault. Jones says prison populations are going up and inmate are getting older and therefore more expensive. At the same timee money for the department is going down. Jones says Oklahomans prides themselves on being tough on crime but legislators are not footing the bill. "Maybe they need to look at being "smart on crime" and that maybe finding alternative sentences, finding drug treatment programs," he suggested as a way to keep additional inmates out of prison. The D.O.C says its staff members are on the right track. "With everything that this audit has found, why not a complete overhaul of the system?" asked reporter Rebecca Schleicher.
"Well I don't think it calls for that," Massie replied, "I think it calls for tweaking some of the things we do."
Read the full audit and the D.O.C. response here.