Chicken-Fried News: Warehouse troubles

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A new report from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics says going behind bars in the Sooner State could mean a sooner end to life.

The statistics show Oklahoma inmates were second most likely to die of homicide in prison between 2001 and 2014. There were 13 killings for every 100,000 inmates. Only Maine beat Oklahoma, with 14 killings per 100,000, but the small sample size makes those numbers unreliable. So maybe it’s not as bad as it appears? … Naw.

The national average for homicides behind bars is five per 100,000 inmates.

Oklahoma also had the second-highest accidental death rate for prisoners, with eight of 100,000 inmates dying behind bars — almost triple the national average.

Oklahoma Public Employees Association policy director Sean Wallace told the Associated Press that prisons are “just a warehouse for inmates in Oklahoma.”

“We don’t really offer them any programs to rehabilitate them,” he said. “We barely staff our facilities. Our facilities are crumbling and falling apart.”

But the high mortality rate might have another cause, Oklahoma prisons spokesman Alex Gerszewski told the Associated Press.

Inmates in general have poor health and are getting older, he said. Seventy-two of the 109 state prison deaths reported in 2015 were inmates older than 50, Gerszewski said.

“Inmates coming into the system oftentimes have pre-existing medical conditions that put their health in a compromised state,” Gerszewski told the AP. “The department does its best with the resources available to care for them and provide treatment.”

Gazette Staff

This article was written by the Oklahoma Gazette staff. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story headline in your subject line.

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