Report says Okla. Dept. of Corr. should seek alternative to jail for non-violent offenders

Comanche County_A new report shines a bad light on Oklahoma's Department of Corrections.  Ranking Oklahoma as second in U.S. with 55% of its convicted criminals in prison or jail, it states that the money spent on offenders has spiked, and that the economy has worsened matters.  The study's author says Oklahoma authorities should look for alternative convictions instead of locking every offender up in expensive prison cells.

Comanche County's Supervisor of Corrections for 20 years is James McNutt.  He agrees that Oklahoma should look at other punishments for criminal activity - particularly non-violent offenses.  However, he says he thinks the percentage listed in the study is misleading.  The supervisor says he believes many of the state's repeat offenders can't be rehabilitated, and showed 7News a file of a woman he says he has 'grown old with.'  "Professional shoplifter, drug addict - I've dealt with this person numerous times," he said.

McNutt says some criminals are choosing to live a life behind bars, and that many counted in the study are not physically inside prison walls, but still are counted as inmates.  "Just my officers have 21 GPS offenders - they're counted as inmates," he said.  "That keeps our stats higher."

He says he does agree that the number of non-violent offenders is too high.  "Why do these bogus check people have to go to prison?  They're not a danger to the public," he said.  He says it's costing the state extra money to lock up non-violent offenders, and those funds could be used to rehabilitate criminals instead.

McNutt says drugs are the biggest obstacle prisons and prisoners need to tackle to keep repeat offenders out of prison.