Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Bill Broiles / Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Repair crews on Tuesday restored water service to Oklahoma State Reformatory in southwestern Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials said a leak in a local water line drained the prison’s water tower Sunday night.

The leak drained multiple water towers near the town of Granite, including the prison’s. But, state prison officials say malfunctioning pumps at a nearby water treatment plant added to the problem. Without the pumps it was difficult to refill the empty water towers. 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West sits in a dimly lit office decorated with hunting trophies and law enforcement memorabilia. 

West is visibly frustrated when he says the Oklahoma Department of Corrections owes his county $88,691 for at least two years of jail costs — and he isn’t the only one complaining. The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association says the state is shortchanging most counties for housing state prison inmates.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Baby Roman is just waking up from his afternoon nap and now he’s looking for a toy. His grandfather, Frank McCarrell, is trying to distract him from the house’s décor with a bottle of milk.

“He don’t usually be asleep this time,” said McCarrell, who just finished his workday to babysit for his daughter. “When I come home … usually he’s up and raring to go. Huh? You be running Papa around?

QUINTON CHANDLER/STATEIMPACT OKLAHOMA

Gov. Mary Fallin signed seven criminal justice reform bills this week ending a bumpy ride for legislation designed to curb prison population growth in Oklahoma.

Fallin says the measures represent smart ways to protect public safety, keep families together — and save taxpayer money.

Most of the legislation was introduced in 2017 but stalled in committee. This year, the bills were reconsidered after compromises between legislators, district attorneys and other government agencies.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

Oklahoma’s state Capitol has been a madhouse all week. Teachers pack the rotunda early, and by 9 a.m. the chants are loud enough to echo through the tunnels underneath the building.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about the State House and Senate agreeing to send the governor a $474M tax increase to fund pay raises for teachers, school support staff and state workers. Meanwhile, the Board of Corrections calls on lawmakers to provide $9M in supplemental funds just to pay bills over the next three months.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma wants to start executing prisoners again and officials want to use nitrogen gas. Oklahoma would be the first state to use nitrogen for an execution.

The state ordered a moratorium on executions in October 2015 after major problems with three lethal injections.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has stopped hiring for the rest of the budget year to prepare for potential funding cuts.

Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh decided to freeze hiring after the state Legislature voted down a series of tax increases known as the Step Up Oklahoma plan, Monday.

Rachel Hubbard / KOSU

Oklahoma is replacing the decks of playing cards they sell in the prison canteens with new custom decks featuring the faces of victims from 52 unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. Other states have similar programs and the program is working.

During the Iraq war, a surprisingly effective tool for the military was a deck of cards distributed to troops featuring the faces of Iraq’s most wanted. Now, law enforcement officials are hoping inmates in American prisons will help play a similar role in unsolved cases.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about lawmakers suspending the special session until a bargain can be made on how to fix the state budget, the Department of Corrections gets blow back from a state lawmaker as it works to reduce overcrowding in state prisons and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spends $25,000 on a sound proof phone booth for his office.

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