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worst prisons in oklahoma

Oklahoma is a state with a rich agricultural heritage, boasting the 27th position in agricultural productivity in the United States. It has become a key player in wheat and cattle production, while simultaneously experiencing a rapidly growing economy. However, amid the celebration of its agricultural success and economic growth, Oklahoma faces a critical issue that demands attention—the alarming crime rate in the state.

The state’s crime rate has not gone unnoticed, as Oklahoma ranks 12th among all US states in terms of the highest violent crime rate per capita, making it the worst in the nation. The repercussions of such high crime rates can be felt deeply within the state’s prisons, as they become overcrowded and understaffed, leading to a myriad of challenges related to healthcare, sanitation, and an increase in violence and riots.

An Overview of Oklahoma’s Prisons

Oklahoma’s state and federal prisons have witnessed an unfortunate rise in fatalities, raising concerns about the quality of healthcare and sanitation within the correctional facilities. Data from the US Department of Justice revealed that between 2001 and 2014, Oklahoma had the second-highest prison homicide rate, with 13 deaths per 10,000 inmates. This increase in crime rate has directly contributed to the overcrowding of prisons in the state.

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Reasons behind the State’s Worst Prisons

1. Decreased Staffing and Oversight

With the escalating crime rate and growing prison population, the staffing in Oklahoma’s prisons has seen a rapid decline. The reduction in oversight of inmates has consequently led to an increase in prison riots, further exacerbating the already challenging living conditions.

2. Prison Overcrowding

The rising crime rate has directly contributed to the overcrowding of Oklahoma’s prisons, straining resources and impeding proper sanitation. Overcrowding is a significant issue that hampers the state’s ability to provide adequate medical care and maintain acceptable living conditions for inmates.

3. Escalating Violence and Homicides

The prevalence of violence and homicide rates inside the prisons has reached alarming levels, posing a significant risk to both inmates and staff. The escalating abuse and frequent fatalities have created an environment of fear and instability within the prison system.

The Seven Worst Prisons in Oklahoma

1. Oklahoma State Penitentiary (“Big Mac”)

Located in McAlester, Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, also known as “Big Mac,” is a maximum-security prison built in 1908 with an original capacity of 50 inmates. Today, it houses up to 750 offenders under the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The facility has experienced numerous riots and gang-related violence due to chronic understaffing.

2. Cimarron Correctional Facility

Operated by CoreCivic, the Cimarron Correctional Facility is a medium-security prison situated in Payne County, Oklahoma. It was opened in 1997 and can house up to 1650 prisoners. Tragic outcomes and fatalities have resulted from the facility’s inadequate prison staffing, leading to gang violence and deadly riots.

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3. Lexington Assessment and Reception Center (LARC)

The Lexington Assessment and Reception Center is a maximum-security prison located in Cleveland County, Lexington, Oklahoma. Operational since 1978, it can accommodate up to 1,450 male detainees. The facility has suffered from overcrowding, inadequate staffing, increased gang activity, and riots.

4. Great Plains Correctional Institution

The Great Plains Correctional Institution in Hinton, Caddo County, Oklahoma, is a medium-security prison managed by the GEO Group. Despite being categorized as medium security, the facility houses a maximum of 1940 inmates. Riots and violence have plagued the institution due to increased gang-related activities and poor living conditions.

5. Davis Correctional Facility

The Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville, Oklahoma, is a medium/maximum security prison operated by CoreCivic. It can house up to 1600 male offenders. The facility has experienced a surge in violence and riots, often leading to fatalities, primarily due to inadequate staffing.

6. Mack Alford Correctional Center

Located in Atoka County, near Stringtown, Oklahoma, the Mack Alford Correctional Center is a medium-security prison opened in 1973. The facility, also known as the Stringtown Correctional Center, is operated by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and has a capacity of 933 inmates. Overcrowding and insufficient staffing have led to violent incidents and poor living conditions.

7. North Fork Correctional Center

The North Fork Correctional Center, a medium/maximum security prison in Beckham County, Oklahoma, has a capacity of 2,520 prisoners. The facility’s massive inmate population has led to numerous riots and fatalities, affecting health, sanitation, and overall living conditions.


Oklahoma’s prosperity in agriculture and its booming economy stand in stark contrast to the grim reality of its prisons. The state’s high crime rate has resulted in overcrowded and understaffed correctional facilities, exacerbating healthcare and sanitation issues. As we focus on Oklahoma’s growth and development, it is essential not to overlook the pressing need for reform in its prison system.

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  1. Is Oklahoma’s crime rate related to the prison issues?Yes, the escalating crime rate in Oklahoma has directly contributed to prison overcrowding and the subsequent challenges faced by the state’s correctional facilities.
  2. Are there any ongoing efforts to address prison issues in Oklahoma?Yes, there are ongoing efforts by various stakeholders to address the prison issues in Oklahoma, including proposals for prison reforms and increased funding for staffing and resources.
  3. Which prison in Oklahoma has the highest capacity?The North Fork Correctional Center in Beckham County, Oklahoma, has the highest capacity, accommodating up to 2,520 prisoners.
  4. How are violent incidents affecting the prison staff?Violent incidents in prisons have put prison staff at risk, leading to injuries and fatalities among correctional officers.
  5. What measures are being taken to improve prison conditions in Oklahoma?Several measures are being considered, including increased staffing, improved oversight, and implementing rehabilitative programs to reduce violence and recidivism.

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