Six years after Oklahoma voters approved policies to reduce sentences for nonviolent crimes, then use the savings to fund mental health and addiction programs, taxpayers are still paying more to fund the Department correctional services, while investments in mental health and addictions are still not there, reports KTUL.com. The DOC received a $544.3 million allocation from the state, despite a report saying they should have saved more than $56.3 million over the past two years due to a 12-year drop. % of the number of detainees.
The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) reports that the agency has $26.6 million in funding for 754 vacancies, which has now grown to nearly 1,000 open positions. LOFT also cited a “lack of transparency” in the DOC’s budgeting process and criticized recent general increases, costing $45.5 million to address a staffing shortage. More targeted increases for critical items would have saved taxpayers $26 million. Additionally, LOFT projections show that Oklahoma’s prison population will continue to drop to less than 14,000 by 2027. And new technologies are also expected to continue to drive down costs.