Oklahoma prisons director says overcrowding crisis worsening

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The head of Oklahoma's prison system is warning lawmakers that state facilities are crumbling, guards are overworked and underpaid, and that the problem will only worsen as more men and women are sentenced to long stretches behind bars.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh's blunt assessment before lawmakers Tuesday comes days after the release of federal statistics that show Oklahoma's overall incarceration rate now ranks second in the nation.

Allbaugh showed members photographs of pooling water on the roof of one prison and a leaking water tank repaired with a broom handle at another.

The agency is asking lawmakers for $813 million to build two new prisons to accommodate the projected growth in the inmate population. The request comes as lawmakers prepare for a fourth consecutive annual budget shortfall.

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