Proposal adds prison beds 

To try and curb the overcrowding prison population in Oklahoma, a proposal has been put on the table to provide more bed space. State Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, said he will introduce legislation which, if funded, would add more than 3,800 beds to the state's prison system.

 

"If we have laws which increase time in prison, we're going to have to put those people somewhere," Lerblance said during a news conference at the state Capitol. "This proposal will do that."

 

Lerblance's proposal is to have the Legislature approve a $309 million bond issue to secure funding for additional bed space at eight state facilities. The bond issue would be for 25 years, with the debt paid by Department of Corrections appropriations.

 

NUMBERS

Lerblance admitted it's a hefty price tag which will be difficult to persuade fellow lawmakers to approve.

 

"But what price is Oklahoma willing to pay for laws we have on the books," he said.

 

Of the 3,800 additional beds called for by Lerblance, 1,500 would go to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, located in his Senate district.

 

The senator emphasized the money would only go toward building bed space. Additional money to operate the expansion would have to be appropriated. -Scott Cooper

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