OKLAHOMA CITY —
• Fallin’s staff played a key role in crafting and pushing legislation that would have done away with the JRI oversight group co-chaired by Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. Steele and Prater resigned from the JRI group in March expressing frustration at Fallin’s office. The legislation ultimately died, leaving no JRI oversight board or coordinator.
• Facing a deadline for bills getting out of committee, Fallin’s’ Chief of Staff Denise Northrup urgently pressed for a vote on the legislation overhauling the oversight group. The email was sent within a few hours after Mullins met with the president and other representatives of private-prison company Geo Group. Mullins said the reform initiative was not discussed at the meeting. Northrup was unavailable for comment.
• Early in the process of carrying out the initiative, Frazier stated in an email that as part of the program, the Department of Corrections planned to transfer prisoners to private prisons owned by Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group. Justin Jones, former corrections department director, denies ever signing off on such a plan.
• Five days after Steele’s and Prater’s resignations, the political action committee for Corrections Corporation of America made a $4,000 donation to Fallin’s 2014 campaign, putting the committee at the maximum donation amount. A few days later, a lobbyist who represents the company, among other clients, donated $5,000 to Fallin’s campaign. Geo Group had already made donations four days before the session started to 11 legislators, including $5,000 each to House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Clark Jolley.
Nothing in the emails and other records reviewed by Oklahoma Watch states that actions taken by the governor’s staff or legislators were done at the request of private-prison companies. But the documents show private-prison companies communicated with the governor’s office specifically about the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.