State Capitol, Oklahoma City – Senate Republican leader Glenn Coffee said a reported shortage of bed space at state prisons is a crisis manufactured by Democrat leaders who support the early release of prisoners and who don’t like using less-costly private prisons to lock up state prisoners.
“If there is a shortage of bed space at state prisons, it is because Democrat leaders did not allow DoC to adequately utilize less-costly private prison space when it was available,” stated Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.
“Public safety should be priority number one of state government,” said Coffee. “The Democrat leaders in the Oklahoma State Senate have once again failed the people of Oklahoma on a critical public safety issue.”
Coffee noted that private prison space was dormant for years, but other states are now contracting to use this space. “It is inexcusable that the state leadership allowed this valuable resource to get snapped up by other states,” he said.
A shortage of bed space at state-run prisons could lead to calls for the early release of prisoners – a policy goal of most Democrats at the State Capitol.
“The early release of dangerous and repeat offenders places the public at risk. Senate Republicans will oppose any effort by Senate Democrats to resurrect their early release program,” Coffee said.
Democrats also will use the “crisis” to call for expensive new state-run prisons to be built instead of utilizing space in private prisons – as a news release issued Wednesday by a Democrat state senator demonstrates.