Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

No Special Session on Correction Woes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

No Special Session on Correction Woes

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter Gov. Henry Bellmon will not call a special session of the Oklahoma Legislature this summer to address prison crowding, he said Thursday.

At his first news conference in about three weeks, the governor said he would not call a special session without the support of Democrat legislative leaders, which apparently was not forthcoming.

Instead, Bellmon said he supports a proposal by Gary Maynard, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, for the Oklahoma Contingency Review Board to authorize 36 additional full-time employees for the department.

These would staff three proposed inmate work centers at locations yet to be chosen, which would house a total of 150-200 inmates.

In a letter to Oklahoma Finance Director Alexander Holmes, Maynard said Oklahoma's prison population increases by 90 inmates a month, and there are about 180 bed spaces currently available.

The work center proposal would tide the system over until February, when the Legislature reconvenes and could vote the department a supplemental appropriation, Maynard said.

If approved by the Contingency Review Board, Bellmon said about $1.4 million to hire the 36 employees would come from the corrections department's appropriation for the current fiscal year, with the hope that the money would be replaced in February with a supplemental appropriation.

The Contingency Review Board, which consists of Bellmon, Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Steve Lewis, D-Shawnee and Sen. President Pro Tempore Robert Cullison, D-Skiatook, is scheduled to meet Tuesday.

Bellmon said he called the legislative leaders and discussed the idea for a special session "in general, polite terms and made no demands. . .but there was no enthusiasm for a special session to deal with the long-term problem. …

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