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Oklahoma Prisons

Common Sense with Vince

    There was an interesting story in the Oklahoman about our aging population of prisoners.

    Ten years ago there were 85 Oklahoma prisoners age 50 or over....today there are almost 4500...it will reach about 5300 this year! The increase is a result of longer sentences and requiring certain offenders to serve at least 85% of their sentence.

    Older prisoners have higher medical costs. The 85% group will cost Oklahoma taxpayers nearly $60 million this year and an estimated $260 million in 2021.

   Just over half of Oklahoma's inmates are there for committing violent offenses.

   So one solution is not to lock up people who commit non violent crimes. It's never made sense to me to lock up white collar criminals who earned a lot of money and paid a lot in taxes. 

   When we lock them up they stop paying income, sales and other taxes that could easily total $20-30,000 a year.

   As prisoners we not only lose the taxes they don't pay...we spend about $15,000 a year to keep them in prison.... it's a lose-lose for taxpayers.

    I've always thought it would make more sense to give non violent offenders a big fine....let them keep working, keep paying taxes, keep their health insurance...That would save us the cost of incarceration, the health care costs, make us money from the fine and reduce our prison population... or more importantly... provide more room for violent offenders.

   Serving 85% of a sentence sounded good...but it's turned out to be much more expensive than anyone ever contemplated.

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