OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is working on a program to place low-risk offenders in the community under supervision if they meet certain criteria.
The program was discussed Tuesday during the Board of Corrections’ monthly meeting in Oklahoma City.
After the meeting, Department of Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh said existing state law empowers the department to look creatively at ways to reduce the prison population.
State institutions are currently at 108 percent of capacity, said Mark Myers, Department of Corrections spokesman.
Allbaugh said the department is in a “dire situation” and can’t wait on possible action by lawmakers on criminal justice reform efforts.
He said the agency is not trying to throw the Legislature “under the bus,” but needs to be proactive.
Allbaugh said the program would be limited to low-risk offenders, probably those who are incarcerated on drug or alcohol offenses.
Offenders serving time for crimes that require 85 percent of the sentence to be completed would not qualify, Allbaugh said. Those crimes range from murder to first-degree rape.
Laura Pitman, director of population, programs and strategic planning, said the offenders would still be completing their sentence, but in a community setting.
Those eligible could not have been convicted of a violent offense, have no sex offense convictions, be free of felony domestic violence convictions and be within 18 months a projected release date.
In addition, eligible offenders could not have victims’ protective orders pending and must have home offers, she said.
“We need to look at it,” said Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “They are going to get out anyway.”
He said it is possible the offenders could be supervised on an ankle bracelet.
Pitman said initial estimates are that 1,557 offenders would qualify, but that figure is expected to be reduced by 30 to 40 percent after field reviews.
Allbaugh said agency officials hope to have more details about the program at the September meeting. An implementation date has not been determined.
“My hope would be before the end of the year,” he said.