Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh resigned abruptly last week, leaving political responsibility for the state’s overcrowded, underfunded prison system squarely in the lap of Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Allbaugh deserves the state’s thanks for 3½ years of work in a largely thankless task. Without enough money or people, working with antiquated facilities and under constant pressure from a misaligned justice system that constantly pushes more and more inmates through the prison system’s front doors, Allbaugh kept everything under control and even made some progress.
He reorganized corrections management to keep the focus on core missions, consolidated politically sensitive but inefficient work centers, cajoled the Legislature into funding long overdue raises for guards and engineered the creative financing for acquisition of a 2,590-bed medium-security facility near Sayre, which was full from Day 1 but gave the state a little more breathing room.