Catherine Sweeney Profile picture
Aug 21, 2018 15 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread: I hear constantly that Oklahoma's prison system is corrupt because of private prisons. Let's talk about why that is one tiny piece of the huge problem that is Oklahoma's criminal justice system. Not a lawyer, policy wonk, etc. This is some 101 stuff.
Oklahoma's PUBLIC state-owned and operated prisons have nearly 20k people in them. That is 113% of capacity. Where are those 13 percent? Glad you asked. Usually one of two places: county jails or temporary beds.
In county jails, there are no services. No mental health, no substance abuse, no job training. No counseling at all. Just meals. Temporary beds are shoved into common spaces. Sometimes it's the spaces where these classes are supposed to be held, so those classes disappear.
On top of this being over capacity, let's talk about staffing. Prisons director Joe Allbaugh wrote an editorial recently stating 1/3 of corrections officer positions are vacant. Why? They make about $13/hour to control prisons. They can make more at QuikTrip.
And 1/3 is average. There are facilities where vacancies are pushing 50 percent. On top of being past capacity, they have to close wings in the prisons because there aren't enough people to patrol them. But that's not all about workers.
Same Allbaugh editorial. Want to guess how many plumbers work for a system that serves 20k inmates, not even counting workers? ONE. Electricians? ONE. Also, every single prison needs basic infrastructure repairs. Badly. There are some where the locks don't even work.
One facility literally has a water tower's control valve held together with a toothbrush and a broom. This isn't a joke. This is a reality. So ok, these are the public prisons.
The wildly understaffed, crumbling state prisons hold 20,000 inmates, which is 113% of their capacity. We have 7,000 more inmates in our private prison system. What happens if we just shut down all those greedy private prisons? We in a very literal sense can't.
That's not the end of the line. Let's move forward one step in the process: County jail. Do you think those are any better funded? No. How many cases have we seen of people dying in county jail before they ever get to court? Don't have #s. @DGoforth918 @rcgentzler @RoryFleming8A?
@DGoforth918 @rcgentzler @RoryFleming8A But you can go back one more step. Our court system is underfunded. Not only does it depend on fines and fees, which just about everyone agrees we should venture away from. We have a savings account paying for a good chunk, the OCIS fund. It's almost empty…
@DGoforth918 @rcgentzler @RoryFleming8A Oklahoma has 77 counties and 27 district attorneys offices. Want to guess asst. DA's caseloads? 300-400 simultaneously. Staffing shortages there too. They are lucky to read a case the day before. Oh and we pay them about $45k. A JD from OU law costs >$150k…
@DGoforth918 @rcgentzler @RoryFleming8A Are public defenders any better? No. The agency overseeing those is flirting with insolvency. I haven't worked on a story about that yet and I'm not finding many so here's @rcgentzler in @enidnews.…
Literally everything on the way to prison is underfunded, and our public system is falling apart. We literally can't handle 7,000 more prisoners in the public system.
If you want change:
Sheriffs/ county commissioners decide how jails are run/funded.
State lawmakers decide how to fund the public defenders offices, DA offices and public prisons.
Governor chooses prisons diretor.
Call. Vote.
Do NOT come at me parroting lines re: private prisons

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More from @CathJSweeney

Sep 24, 2018
I'm watching @NewsOK's gubernatorial debate and will tweet highlights.
@NewsOK Stitt on the teacher walkout: "We would have never been in that situation had I been governor."
@NewsOK Chris Casteel: Why did you oppose HB1010? You've said before we need to be competitive with other states. The increased rates are still lower than many. Stitt: "It was just going to put a bandaid on this problem."
Read 27 tweets
Aug 22, 2018
I'm at the joint legislative working group on #SQ788. In addition to two doctors, more than 15 residents have signed up to speak. They are allotted 5 minutes each.
Dr. Mike Mullins will testify first. He said he's representing no one but himself. He graduated from both pharmacy and medical school.
Mullins: "We have a very limited role. It is a role that is very short. It's not anything we have experienced before as physicians with our patients." We might never see the patients again. "It probably is more along the lines of a consumer-physician relationship."
Read 29 tweets
Aug 15, 2018
I'm at the joint working group on #SQ788. We'l be hearing from law enforcement today.
Rusty Rhoades, head of the Department of Public Safety. He is talking about whether employees should be allowed to use MMJ. He said troopers obviously can't. He said rules in his department will have to be black and white. "There's not a lot of grey area in law enforcement."
Sen. Paxton: Walk me through a traffic stop. No one is concerned about MMJ at home. But what about on the road? Rhoades: “Training has been in place for a number of years ... now, that’s expensive training.” “That’s where the lines get pretty blurry.”
Read 47 tweets
Aug 8, 2018
The debate is starting. You can tune in now. Kelly Ogle of OKC @NEWS9 and Terry Hood of Tulsa @NewsOn6 are hosting.
First question, Ogle: Do you believe Oklahoma is headed in the right direction?
Cornett: “The citizens of Oklahoma should be very upset.” Points to several economic and political failures and contrasts them with achievements in Oklahoma City. “i want to bring the same sort of success to all corners of Oklahoma.”
Read 30 tweets
Jul 13, 2018
Thread: I'll be tweeting some details from the #SQ788 lawsuit filed in Cleveland County today. Here's the link. If you want to read the complaint, find the PDF under petition. I'll upload a PDF in a but.…
Plaintiffs include residents who would be medical marijuana licensees or parents of minors who would qualify. Conditions include seizure disorders, chronic pain, anxiety, migraines and insomnia.
"(Plaintiffs) have been denied proper access to medical care and treatment by the arbitrary and capricious rules adopted by the DOH which exceed their rule making authority and which impair Plaintiffs rights under Oklahoma State law."
Read 10 tweets
Jul 10, 2018
Thread: The Oklahoma State Board of Health is considering final draft rules. Julie Ezell, general counsel is presenting. #SQ788
She is explaining several provisions. I'll tweet some highlights while retweeting other reporters.
Ezell: The rules ban outdoor marijuana cultivation. It's not only for the safety, security of the marijuana. "It's also related to pesticides, water runoff and stuff like that."
Read 14 tweets

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