For Immediate Release
Contact: Ryan Gentzler, firstname.lastname@example.org, (918) 794-3944
TULSA, Okla. – A new data tool published by Open Justice Oklahoma provides up-to-date looks at the state’s incarceration rate and prison overcrowding crisis. The Oklahoma DOC Tracker will be updated weekly with data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, giving policymakers and the public timely information about trends in our justice system.
“While Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis is a constant topic of debate, it is often difficult to find basic information about where we stand,” said Ryan Gentzler, Director of Open Justice Oklahoma. ”We hope that the Oklahoma DOC Tracker provides an easy-to-use way to measure and contextualize our overincarceration problem.”
In addition to weekly population counts published by the Department of Corrections, the Oklahoma DOC Tracker draws on Bureau of Justice Statistics reports to compare the state’s incarceration rates to other states’ rates and to the national average. At the time of the report’s release, Oklahoma must reduce its prison population by about 4,970 people to fall out of the top five states in imprisonment and by about 10,937 people to reach the national average.
“This will be a useful tool for the public, policymakers, and researchers to see in real time how criminal justice reform efforts are working and where Oklahoma sits nationally,” said Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. “The tracker indicates there is a huge gap to close just for Oklahoma to be average in prison population per capita. Utilizing tools like this that rely on data will lead to informed policy decisions and better outcomes for our state.”
The Oklahoma DOC Tracker also provides a weekly look at the number of people under probation and parole supervision and in county jail backup, as well as a map displaying facilities that house state prisoners and their populations compared to their rated capacity.
“As the Department of Corrections has continually pointed out in recent years, our prisons are dangerously overcrowded and underfunded,” said Gentzler. “Many state facilities have been filled with temporary beds, leading to populations that can exceed twice the number of people the facility was designed to hold. We hope that this tool can help to focus attention on the desperate conditions in our state prisons.”
Gentzler will give a live demonstration of how to use the tracker next Tuesday, July 9, at 2pm on Open Justice Oklahoma’s Facebook page . Find the event on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/612813839209206/.
The Oklahoma DOC Tracker can be found at https://openjustice.okpolicy.org/oklahoma-department-of-corrections-tracker/. Open Justice Oklahoma is a program of the Oklahoma Policy Institute that seeks to illuminate our justice system through analysis of public data.