Report on Probation, Parole Ignites Old Debate

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A report showing Oklahoma lags behind other
states in utilizing probation, parole and community-based sentencing has ignited an old debate on a continuing prison overcrowding problem.

According to a study by the Pew Center on the States, Oklahoma is among the nation's leaders in sending people to prison, but ranks among the worst in using alternatives to prison.

The report touched a nerve with Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, who denounced it as not giving the state credit for diverting people from prisons through drug courts.

Adam Gelb of the Pew Center's Public Safety Performance Report, said in the last 25 years there has been a significant shift toward imprisonment in Oklahoma.

The report said Oklahoma ranks 43rd among the states in the number of people placed on probation or parole from its correctional population.

It said prison spending has climbed from $113 million to $518 million over the last 2 1/2 decades, counting federal facilities.

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