Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We made the newspaper!
Our 18th Annual Prison Christmas Project ...
Today, Dec 4th, 2018 is the day we hand deliver each gift to the 1450
women in prison. The entire population of the facility will get a Christmas
gift today

Though likely a coincidence, on Giving Tuesday helpers were found flocking to First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in McLoud to do just that — to assemble care packages for hundreds of inmates at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
Though likely a coincidence, on Giving Tuesday helpers were found flocking to First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in McLoud to do just that — to assemble care packages for hundreds of inmates at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
For the past 18 years, the GIFTS Charities collaboration — comprised of nearly 70 area churches, civic organizations and individuals — has annually provided their confined neighbors with valuable commodities that may be a challenge for some to come by.
GIFTS stands for Giving Incarcerated Females Truth and Support, Chairman Virginia Brendle said.
“The truth is Jesus Christ and the support is all of this (care packages, scholarships, etc.),” she said.
Some partners give money, some buy products, some help sack the gift bags or a combination of those things, Brendle said.
Working their way around the room in a large circle — like a favorite dance — the dozens of volunteers stepped the course in and out through the grid of tables, selecting hygiene items one-by-one. Fill a bag; drop it off, then start another.
The goal to meet was 1,450 care packages, Brendle said.
She said when the program started the group filled around 300 goodie bags.
“The population is so high now, it’s around 1,450,” she said.
Items specifically chosen for the bags meet both the Department of Corrections’ specifications and the needs of inmates: shampoo, conditioner, tissues, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, etc.
“They also will get a calendar and some Christmas cards they can send out to their families,” Brendle said.
Cory Ketch, warden’s assistant at Mabel Bassett, was counted among the volunteers, along with 14 of the prison staffers, like case managers, officers and administrative staff. He said it was their second year to come help with the assembly process.
He said the gift bags do a lot for the morale among the inmates.
“You have some inmates here that have no one supporting them on the outside,” he said. “They have no money coming in to help them.”
Those inmate are the most appreciative of these gift packages because of the products that they receive, he said.
“When we pass these packages out, you can see on the faces of the inmates just how much it means to them,” he said.
“We are very appreciative of the work that Mrs. Brendle does,” Ketch said. “Not only for us here at Mabel Bassett, but for the department (DOC) as a whole.”
Her group works tirelessly to ensure the inmates get things that are allowed within the department’s guidelines, he said.
DOC requires certain sizes on the items and clear bottles, etc., for the sake of security and safety.
“Mrs. Brendle and her group doesn’t stop with just doing the gift packages each year; they also support a handful of inmates by providing them with scholarships so that they can obtain a college degree,” he said.
Brendle said, “With the leftover funds, we’re sending 12 girls through college.”
She said the money provides all the books and supplies.
“We had a girl last month who earned her bachelor’s degree,” she said. “We were proud of that; we were proud parents.”
Ketch said Brendle and her group do a lot for the prison.
“We would be lost without her and her group,” he said.
Ketch said another thing Brendle’s group did recently was pay for a brand new 5-foot by 110-foot sidewalk that allows the inmates easier access to the prison’s chapel.
“Not only does the staff here at the prison think an awful lot of Mrs. Brendle,” he said. “So do the inmates.”
The gifts are scheduled to be delivered at the correctional center next week — Tuesday, Dec. 4.
To donate to or volunteer to help with the annual project, call Virginia Brendle at (405) 273-6620.  By Vicky O. Misa | | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar

Monday, June 25, 2018

Now that Oklahoma leads the nation in sending men and women to prison, our state’s elected leaders must take action Last session, Gov. Mary Fallin and state lawmakers wisely passed seven bills addressing criminal justice reform. This will help — eventually. Yet even with the new reforms, the state’s prison population will grow by 2,367 inmates by 2026. As of June 18, we have 2,065 temporary beds. Those beds are packed into living spaces, common areas and other locations in our facilities that aren’t meant to be places where people sleep. Meanwhile, 1,166 inmates sentenced to Oklahoma Department of Corrections are in county jails waiting on a bed in our system. All told, that’s 5,598 individuals — more than enough to fill two prisons. This is a solvable problem.
• First, we must make room for those criminals mandated to serve prison time.
Two new prisons must be built, and time is of the essence. Without these new facilities, federal intervention is a real possibility.
• Second, we must invest in treatment of mental illness and drug addiction.
Lack of access to treatment puts more people in prison when timely access could eliminate contact with law enforcement altogether, saving taxpayers’ money.
• Third, increased investment in inmate education and job training.
Ninety-one percent of our inmates will be released. Yet less than a third of them have access to the programs, educational services and trade skill training that will help them avoid coming back to prison — as more than 26 percent of them do  Experts have warned Oklahoma policymakers for years of our criminal justice system’s impending disaster. The time to act is now.
[source: Tulsa World.]

Prison budget facts

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections budget requested a $1.53 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, more than $1 billion more than it received the previous year.
When the Legislature adjourned, the final appropriation to the agency was $517.2 million, a 7.13 percent increase, but nearly a billion below what the agency says it needs.
Here are some key parts of the DOC budget request:
Two new medium-security prisons: $813 million
Immediate facility needs: $107.1 million
Inmate health care: $88.5 million
5 percent staff salary increase: $10.1 million
Information technology: $6.6 million
Source: SB1600, Oklahoma Department of Corrections 

Top incarceration rates (inmates per 100,000 population)

1. Oklahoma — 1,079
2. Louisiana — 1,052
3. Mississippi — 1,039
4. Georgia — 970
5. Alabama — 946
U.S. average: 698