The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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December 30, 2013

Special Report: Actions by Fallin’s staff led to weakened state justice reforms

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

On March 5, 2013, Avalon representatives met with Northrup and Frazier at the governor’s office. Costello, the Avalon president, wrote later in an email that the discussion included the correction department’s budget as it related to the JRI recommendation for revocation facilities and beds.

The email closes with Costello stating the corrections department was not in compliance with a law requiring nonviolent offenders to be placed in a step-down facility for a specified period prior to release.

Mullins said any requests or recommendations from Avalon during the meeting would have been forwarded to the Department of Corrections for consideration.

“We don’t have meetings on that,” Mullins said. “We have letters that we will send on, but all of the meetings I’ve had with private prisons have been on per-diem rates.” Per-diem refers to the amount the state pays private prisons per day for each inmate.

Jones denied to Oklahoma Watch that the department was out of compliance with the law, saying audits had confirmed compliance.

Jones said he was never briefed on the meeting between the governor’s office and Avalon, although Sen. Clark Jolley visited with him more than once about Avalon’s role.

Jones did confirm the private-prison companies’ continued interest in per-diem rates. He said that in 2011, then-Secretary of State Coffee, appointed by Fallin, called him near the end of the legislative session and asked him to call House leaders and request approval of a Senate-passed bill giving per-diem increases to private prisons. The per-diem increase was not part of the negotiated budget and would be unfunded unless the House acted, Jones said.

“He advised me the governor supported it and it was in my best interest to make the call, which I did,” Jones said.

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