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Corrections department initiates hiring freeze as Oklahoma's budget struggle continues

Oklahoma Department of Corrections (KTUL/File)

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KTUL) - The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has initiated an immediate hiring freeze after the state's latest budget fix failed earlier this week.

Facing additional budget cuts, Director Joe Allbaugh placed the freeze Wednesday on most positions except correctional officers, food service workers and maintenance staff.

"We can’t just close the Department of Corrections to save money," said Allbaugh. "Therefore, I have put this agency on a hiring freeze until uncertainty with the Fiscal Year 2018 budget - a year which is more than half over - gets resolved.”

According to Allbaugh, the freeze does not apply to positions with pending employment offers.

The Oklahoma DOC has, for the second consecutive year, requested a more than $1 billion increase from its $485 million in appropriated funding - $819 million was requested to build two new medium security prisons and another $107 million would go to facility repairs.

The state's fifth-largest agency says they regularly deal with staff shortages and chronic maintenance issues at their overcrowding, aging facilities. According to the Oklahoma DOC, more than 2,000 inmates are currently in temporary beds. In total, more than 27,000 inmates are in the custody of Oklahoma DOC facilities while almost 1,000 are awaiting transfer from county jails and another 35,000 are under community supervision.

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