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BOC Minutes for September 4, 2019

  1. Call to Order, Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call
  2. Approval of Board of Corrections Regular Meeting Minutes
  3. Vice-Chairman Election
  4. Chairman's Comments
  5. Director’s Comments
  6. Overview of Mental Health Services and Needs
  7. New Business
  8. Approval to Enter Into Executive Session
  9. Approval to Return from Executive Session
  10. Adjournment

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1. Call to Order  

Chairman Steven Harpe called the regular meeting of the Oklahoma Board of Corrections (BOC) to order at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC), 3400 North Martin Luther King Avenue, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The meeting was preceded by advance notice of the date, time, and place, filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State on October 31, 2018. An amended meeting notice changing the time was posted with the Oklahoma Secretary of State on May 1, 2019. An announcement was also given at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance by posting notice of the date, time, place, and agenda of the meeting at 12:39 PM on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, at the principal office of the ODOC, located at 3400 North Martin Luther King Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  

  • Pledge of Allegiance  
    Chair Harpe led the meeting attendees in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the United States Flag.  
  • Roll Call 
    Chair Harpe asked the clerk to call the roll:  
    Betty Gesell - Absent
    Michael W. Roach - Present
    Joseph Griffin - Absent
    T. Hastings Siegfried - Present
    Steven Harpe - Present
    Rodney Thornton - Present
    Lynn Haueter - Present
    Daryl Woodard - Present
    Dr. Kathryn LaFortune - Present  

Calling of the roll reflected a quorum was present.    

2. Approval of Board of Corrections Regular Meeting Minutes

Chairman Harpe requested approval of the meeting minutes as presented to members in the BOC Packet for September 4, 2019.

  • August 14, 2019

Motion: Mr. Siegfried made motion to approve the minutes. Mr. Woodard seconded the motion Results: Ms. Gesell – absent; Mr. Griffin – absent; Mr. Harpe – yes; Mr. Haueter – yes; Ms. LaFortune – yes; Mr. Roach – yes; Mr. Siegfried – yes; Mr. Thornton – yes; Mr. Woodard – yes.

3. Vice-Chairman Election

During the August meeting there was a discrepancy in the recording of the votes for Vice-Chairman. Chairman Harpe requested a revote and nominations for the position of Vice-Chairman of the BOC

Motion: Mr. Haueter moved to nominate Mr. Thornton as vice chairman; motion seconded by Dr. LaFortune. Results: Ms. Gesell – absent; Mr. Griffin – absent; Mr. Harpe – yes; Mr. Haueter – yes; Ms. LaFortune – yes; Mr. Roach – yes; Mr. Siegfried – yes; Mr. Thornton – abstain; Mr. Woodard – yes.

Mr. Thornton elected as Vice-Chairman by majority vote so no additional votes taken.

4. Chairman’s Comments

Chairman Harpe voiced concern over discrepancies in the agency’s budget numbers. Mr. Harpe stressed the importance of the agency’s numbers matching. Mr. Harpe indicated that after speaking to some legislatures it has become evident that it is difficult for the Department of Corrections to be taken seriously due to data the agency has provided. Mr. Harpe stressed the importance of getting to a place where the agency’s data is accurate, consistent and trustworthy.

There was no further discussion.

5. Director's Comments

  • Introduction of acting Executive Assistant and Administrative Assistant 

Interim Director Crow took a moment to introduce acting Executive Assistant Kathi Sappington and Administrative Assistant Tasha Parker.

  • ODOC Information Seminars

Interim Director Crow stated ODOC hosted the second seminar on August 22, 2019. During the seminar, directors of numerous DOC divisions present information on their areas. The seminar also offered a tour at Kate Barnard Correctional Center (KBCC) where participants heard testimonies from a panel of three female inmates. Participants included a BOC Member, Noble County Sheriff’s Jailers, Oklahoma City Police Department Deputy Chief, Member of the Oklahoma Juvenile Authority, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, American Legislative Exchange Council, Several Members of Non-Profit Organizations attended such as Potts Family Foundation, We Build Oklahoma, Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma, The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM), Two House of Representatives and a few new DOC employees were invited to attend. The feedback was really positive and another seminar is scheduled for Friday, October 4, 2019. Please contact Communications Director Jessica Brown if you would like to attend.

  • Upcoming Cadet Graduation

Interim Director Crow stated the next academy graduation is scheduled for September 17, 2019. 61 cadets are expected to graduate from the Wilson Training Academy. This is a six week regimen training. Among the cadets are 46 males and 15 females. Upon graduation they will report to their assigned facilities. In this particular academy Jackie Brannon Correctional Center (JBCC) will gain the most cadets, with the total being 8. Interim Director Crow indicated he believes he mentioned in last month’s meeting that ODOC combined the two academies into one and ODOC continues to see success in utilizing one academy.

Chairman Harpe inquired how the 61 affect overall staffing.

Interim Director Crow responded that typically the numbers are a “wash” but this academy is expected to increase numbers. Interim Director Crow indicated that ODOC is seeing an increase in retention.

Chairman Harpe inquired if ODOC conducts an exit survey.

Interim Director Crow responded yes.

  • Prison Fellowship Inmate Graduation

Interim Director Crow extended his appreciation to Warden Dunkin at KBCC for offering an inmate program named Prison Fellowship. Interim Director Crow stated on August 23, 2019, twenty female inmates at KBCC graduated from the year-long faith-based course that addresses criminogenic behaviors, healthy relationships, life skills, reentry, and addiction recovery. This was the first graduating class for this organization in Oklahoma. A former inmate teaches the class. Interestingly, none of the inmates received any credits for taking this course. The ladies took the class just to become better citizens when released, making this a huge win for us. Last month, Congressman James Lankford visited the program to see firsthand how this course is changing the lives of inmates.

  •  CEO Ribbon Cutting Event

Interim Director Crow indicated yesterday (September 3, 2019), several members of ODOC attended the CEO Ribbon Cutting Event. Celebrating the opening of a new building for the Center for Employment Opportunities in Oklahoma City. CEO and ODOC’s Probation and Parole work closely together to find employment for offenders when released from prison. CEO is the largest reentry employment provider in the country, providing former inmates with immediate paid employment, skill training and ongoing career support.

Vice-Chair Thornton inquired about the number one skill employers are looking for at the job fairs.

Interim Director Crow Responded indicating typically it is career tech skills.

Interim Director Crow indicated the CEO struggled to find office space due to communities not wanting to welcome them based off of the cliental they served. CEO finding this particular location is great, CEO has been extremely successful. CEO indicated during the ribbon cutting approximately 350 former inmates have processed through and obtained meaningful jobs within this year alone.

Vice-Chair Thornton inquired on the timespan of processing 350 former inmates.

Interim Director Crow responded one year.

  •  SB 780 Project with the Pardon and Parole Board

Interim Director Crow indicated ODOC continues to work closely with Executive Director Steve Bickley and his team gearing up for SB780 to take effect November 1, 2019 allowing for a one-stage commutation process for those inmates sentenced for felony crimes that are now misdemeanors, examples possession of a controlled dangerous substance and some property crimes. Several hundred inmates’ sentences could be commuted to one year by Governor Stitt. Most of these inmates will have already served that time and could be released to spend the holidays with their families. This is a huge project. There is a lot happening behind the scenes to accomplish this tasking. Governor Stitt has set some very clear timelines and we are going to meet those time lines. These timelines are within the next 90 to 120 days. Interim Director Crow indicated he met with Probation and Parole Director Kevin Duckworth who could see an influx of offenders on their caseload once they are released from prison. As ODOC moves forward, Interim Director Crow will keep the BOC updated on the number of inmates affected by SB780.

Vice- Chair Thornton inquired on ODOC policy and whether or not it would need to be revised to accommodate SB780.

Interim Director Crow referred question to General Counsel David Cincotta.

General Counsel Cincotta responded indicating some changes have been made on the employee side but no changes appeared to be necessary on the inmate side.

Vice – Chair Thornton reiterated his question.

General Counsel Cincotta responded No Sir.

  • Oklahoma Correctional Association Conference (OCA)

Interim Director Crow indicated the OCA conference begins on September 11, 2019 through September 13, 2019 at the Mayo Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is a multidisciplinary organization that targets correctional professionals, agencies and organizations involved in all aspects of the criminal justice system. This conference offers several classes including Building Resilience in the Work Place, Crime Scene Preservation and Brining Positivity and Morale to the Workplace. ODOC is sending 63 employees to this conference. This state association is an affiliate to the national association. OCA has been an organization for many years and this is their annual conference.

Vice – Chair Thornton inquired if OCA was the same as the American Correctional Association (ACA).

Interim Director Crow responded No, Sir.

  • Dick Conner Correctional Center (DCCC) Celebrating 40th Anniversary 

Interim Director Crow announced DCCC was celebrating their 40th anniversary Friday, September 6, 2019. Current and former employees will come together and reflect on the many changes in the system over the last several decades.

  • Sherriff Peace Officer Association 

Interim Director Crow indicated ODOC continues to meet with the Sherriff Peace Officer Association to try to bridge some gaps and form partnerships. Additional status updates on this will be forthcoming as progress moves forward.

  • Restore Committee

ODOC continues to participate on Governor Stitt’s restore Criminal Justice Task Force which is a series of several different sub-committees that are dedicated to different areas of criminal justice reform. Governor Stitt is anticipating recommendations by the end of this year. ODOC is actively participating in at least five of the committees.

Chairman Harpe inquired on who is involved in the Restore Committee.

Interim Director Crow responded indicating Dr. Pitman was and now Greg Williams and himself.

  • Interim Director Crow solicited the BOC to provide recommendations on what they would like updates on during the BOC meetings

Mr. Haueter inquired on the best way to send topics.

Interim Director Crow responded through email.

Mr. Woodard indicated updates are helpful and particular challenges for the month should be included in the BOC updates.

Interim Director Crow responded in acknowledgement. 

Chairman Harpe indicated ODOC needed to work through the discrepancies and then hopefully get to a place where the budget, technology and systems set in place to protect the general public could be addressed. Chairman Harpe indicated a work group should be initiated soon to begin progress on the matter.

Interim Director Crow responded in acknowledgement.

 There was no further discussion.

6. Overview of Mental Health Services and Needs

Dr. Jana Morgan provided an overview of ODOC’s mental health services and needs. A copy of the overview was included in the BOC packet. During the overview Dr. Morgan responded to the following inquiries from board members:

Dr. LaFortune thanked Dr. Morgan for presenting and indicated she felt it important to place this item on the agenda to bring attention of the need for doctorial level degrees in the mental health field. As of this moment there are 17 vacant positions for psychologists and right now ODOC needs an additional 5 doctorial level psychologists and this has been an ongoing need since 2006. Dr. La Fortune thanked mental health staff for their work and dedication

Dr. Morgan responded in appreciation.

Chairman Harpe inquired about a breakdown of how many inmates classified as mental health level O, A, B, C1, C2, or D and cost associated with each.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating ODOC has the percentage of inmates classified as mental health level O, A, B, C1, C2 or D but does not currently have cost associated. Dr. Morgan indicated the mental health department could look into obtaining associated costs.

Mr. Woodard inquired about the budget restriction and how it affected inmates receiving necessary medications.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating there is a formulary that is used with a wide range of medication to choose from and there are regular meetings to discuss costs and of medications on the formulary and adjustments are made when required. Dr. Morgan also indicated, If necessary, medications are provided that are not on the formulary.

Mr. Haueter inquired about the type of assessments are conducted at the assessment and reception centers.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating a general screening with a self-report and structured interview.

Mr. Thornton inquired about the mental health process at the assessment and reception centers.

Dr. Morgan responded mental health has levels of assessment also, each time an inmate transfers they receive another mental health screening.

Mr. Thornton inquired about mental health record keeping.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating mental health has an electronic health record (HER).

Mr. Thornton inquired about the electronic record keeping sufficiency.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it is not a perfect system but it is much better than what was available in the past.

Mr. Haueter inquired on what EHR mental health was using.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it was Medunison through Docsynergy.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about what Dr. Morgan would like to see when it comes to the mental health department.

Dr. Morgan Responded indicated more staff would allow for more time for testing and screening of inmate patients. It is critical to be able to diagnosis mental health issues in the beginning to provide treatment faster allowing more preventative care rather than reactive care.

Interim Director Crow inquired about the new OMS system and if that system would have a more sufficient EHR system.

Dr. Morgan referred to Mr. Mike Carpenter.

Mr. Carpenter responded indicating 3 of the 4 vendors do offer a more technological advanced EHR system.

Mr. Haueter inquired about who hosts our EHR system.

Dr. Morgan referred to Mr. Clint Castleberry.

Mr. Castleberry responded indicating it is hosted out of OU Health Science Center.

Mr. Haueter inquired on if the system was a joint system.

Mr. Castleberry responded indicating it is not a joint system.

Mr. Haueter inquired about the average length of assessment.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it is individually based. The initial assessment is quick. More in depth assessments are anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about who completes the initial assessment.

Dr. Morgan responded mental health has one psychologist at each assessment and reception center. Therefore, the bulk of assessments are completed by the master level clinicians.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired if the master level clinicians are qualified to conduct assessment.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating they are qualified but the doctorial level staff have better skills to provide more in-depth screenings.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about how many inmates are assessed in a day at the assessment and reception centers.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating on average 20 to 25 inmates per day are assessed.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired on how mental health staff were able to screen that many a day based on the timeframe it took for each assessment to be conducted.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating the initial assessment was brief and if the initial assessment indicated additional assessments, screenings, or testing was necessary a follow up assessment would be scheduled over a period of days.

Interim Director Crow inquired about why the number of staffing is low.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating pay is not competitive with other agencies.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about mental health pay scale.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating ODOC offers approximately $76,000 annually. Other agencies are offering $10,000 to $15,000 more annually.

Dr. LaFortune confirmed the positions in discussion were doctorial level.

Dr. Morgan affirmed.

Chairman Harped and Mr. Woodard inquired about the other agencies.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating mental health has lost staff to the V.A., Social Security Disability and Termination Division and some to Department of Mental Health but the majority to the V.A.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about how ODOC’s mental health work week hours compared to other agencies.

Dr. Morgan responded indicated she could not speak fully for other agencies but she does believe their staffing levels have reduced their work hours and night calls.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about the benefits a Dementia Unit could provide ODOC.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating ODOC could benefit from such unit for treatment and safety purposes.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about how you treat dementia.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating much of the treatment for dementia is medically driven. Mental health staff assist on testing, assessing and diagnosing.

Mr. Haueter inquired about the levels included in the 64% of inmates receiving treatment.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating that was levels A through D.

Mr. Haueter inquired about if ODOC is considered the mental health hospital for the state, is there state funding.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating ODOC assists in getting inmates approved for assistance for when they are released.

Mr. Haueter inquired about their eligibility while incarcerated.

Dr. LaFortune stated they are not eligible while incarcerated.

Dr. Morgan affirmed Dr. LaFortune’s statement.

Mr. Haueter inquired about why inmates are not eligible.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating laws do not allow eligibility while under ODOC care.

Vice-Chair Thornton inquired about if the law was ODOC policy or state statute.

General Counsel Mr. David Cincotta responded indicating it is Federal Law.

Interim Director Crow requested Mr. Cincotta provide such law and regulations.

Mr. Cincotta acknowledged request.

Vice-Chairman Thornton and Mr. Haueter inquired about eligibility upon discharge from incarceration.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating once they are released they qualify.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about which level of mental health staff are required to see inmate patients that are in restrictive housing.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it can be any mental health staff (master level – doctorial level).

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about how many inmates are seen by mental health staff in a month.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating approximately 30% of the population.

Vice-Chairman Thornton followed up indicating about 5,000 inmates a month.

Dr. Morgan affirmed Vice-Chairman Thornton’s statement.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired how long it takes to visit each of the 5,000 inmates.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it is individually based. If an inmate is doing well it could take as little as 15 to 20 minutes.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about the length of time to document meetings.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it does not take terribly long to chart notes.

Chairman Harped and Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about ODOC policy, specifically any policy that could be revised.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating at this time, policy did not appear to be an issue.

Mr. Haueter inquired about how many psychologists ODOC has employed.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating there were 10 soon to be 9 statewide and that included supervisors that supervised and had caseloads.

Mr. Haueter inquired about psychologist’s ability to prescribe.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating psychologists do not have the ability to prescribe.

Mr. Haueter inquired about the benefit of a psychologists over the master level clinician.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating psychologists have extensive training in the assessment, testing, and evaluations. They also have a deeper knowledge of some of the mental illnesses and an overall higher skill base which is crucial for the population ODOC serves.

Mr. Haueter inquired about how many psychiatrists ODOC has employed.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating ODOC has 8 psychiatrists to include the contracted tele-med psychiatrists.

Vice-Chairman Thornton inquired about the percentage of tele-meds.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating about 60% are tele-med.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about the cost of contracting versus the cost of hiring psychiatrists.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating to contract out ODOC pays up to $240 an hour. ODOC pays $165,000 to $172,000 annually. If ODOC were able to hire more psychiatrists it would save the agency.

Mr. Harpe inquired about the services ODOC provided and if they were standard in comparable to other mental health services.

Dr. Morgan responded yes.

Mr. Haueter inquired about how many nurse practitioners ODOC employed.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating mental health did not have any.

Chairman Harpe inquired about if there was a need for nurse practitioners.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating they could use them but it is difficult to find a practitioner that has a specialty where mental health could utilize them.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about pre-doctorial interns and could they be helpful.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating they could be and stated mental health’s best recruitment tool has been through their interns.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about where the majority of interns are studying.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating OU and OSU.

Mr. Haueter inquired about any from NSU.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating mental health had not had any from NSU.

Chairman Harpe inquired about how ODOC scores the reentry program.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating the Department of Mental Health tracks the data. The data indicates great success.

Chairman Harpe indicated the data would be good to present to Governor Stitt and Secretary Keating and indicated ODOC should obtain data.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about the success of the program pertaining to the level of degree the staff had performing the assessments.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating that when the doctorial level staff members obtained the assessments the success rate increased. When assessments were being received from the master level staff approval rate dropped from 90% to 60-65% range. Dr. Morgan indicated the mental health department went back to requiring doctorial level staff provide assessments.

Chairman Harpe inquired about where mental health is on their staffing.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating the biggest area in mental health that is understaffed is psychologists and psychiatrists.

Chairman Harpe inquired about what percent is mental health understaffed.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating psychologists are down 64%.

Dr. LaFortune stated mental health had 17 vacant psychologist positions vacant with one more to become vacant in the near future.

Dr. Morgan affirmed Dr. LaFortune’s statement.

Dr. LaFortune inquired about testing needs.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating they do have testing needs but have not been able to get to a point to determine which tests would best suit the population.

Mr. Haueter inquired about providing automated assessments.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it would depend, several could be helpful but do not really provide specific assessments.

Chairman Harpe inquired about how long mental health has been at 64% understaffed.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it has been steadily reducing each year and this has been the worst year.

Chairman Harpe inquired about at what point is the staffing levels considered critical.

Dr. Morgan responded indicating it is critical now.

Chairman Harpe stated at the end of the day and at some point we want to ensure you are empowered and your team is empowered to communicate your needs. At this point, it sounds like a new strategies need to be discussed to provide assistance. It is time to have deeper discussions to find a solution.

Mr. Woodard inquired about hiring less staff for more money.

Chairman Harpe and Dr. LaFortune agreed with his inquiry.

Dr. LaFortune stated mental health does not have a line item in the budget.

Chairman Harpe inquired about breaking it out in 2020.

Interim Director Crow responded yes.

No further discussion.

7. New Business

  • Presentation from Dr. Pitman 

Vice-Chairman Thornton voiced concerns pertaining to the discrepancy in the number of teachers Dr. Pitman’s presentation and Ms. Ashlee Clemmons report cited. Vice-Chairman Thornton Stressed the need for accurate reporting.

Interim Director Crow inquired if Ms. Clemmons had any insight.

Ms. Clemmons did not have any insight.

Chairman Harpe stated all reporting must be consistent across the agency.

Chairman Harpe and Vice-Chair Thornton agree that a process should be implemented and an employee should assigned to ensure all data circulated is consistent.

Interim Director Crow agreed and ensured a vetting protocol would be enacted.

Mr. Haueter inquired about if there happened to be data analysis employee.

Interim Director Crow responded and indicated there was not a particular employee who held such a position.

Chairman Harpe stated it is causing problems with ODOC’s credibility, Chairman Harpe indicated he will work with interim Director Crow to get everyone on the same page.

8. Approval to Enter Into Executive Session

Pursuant to 25 O.S. § 307(B)(9), discussing matters involving safety and security at state penal institutions or correctional facilities used to house state inmates

  1. Discussion of security strategies being used and considered by the agency in combatting the introduction of contraband at penal institutions
  1. Discussion of the agency’s use of long-term administrative segregation and strategies to improve utilization of segregated housing units. 

Mr. Cincotta advised the items listed on the agenda would require adjournment to Executive Session for engaging in confidential communications and recommended Chairman Harpe entertain a motion to enter into Executive Session.

Motion: Chairman Harpe made motion to enter in to Executive Session; Dr. LaFortune seconded the motion. Results: Ms. Gesell – absent; Mr. Griffin – absent; Mr. Harpe – yes; Mr. Haueter – yes; Ms. LaFortune – yes; Mr. Roach – yes; Mr. Siegfried – yes; Mr. Thornton – yes; Mr. Woodard – yes.

By majority vote, the BOC entered into Executive Session at 2:26 PM.

Mr. Griffin arrived at 3:48 p.m.

 Mr. Woodard left the room at 3:35 p.m. and returned at 3:39 p.m.

9. Approval to Return from Executive Session

Motion:  Mr. Woodard made a motion to return from Executive Session; Dr. LaFortune seconded the motion. Results: Ms. Gesell – absent; Mr. Griffin – yes; Mr. Harpe – yes; Mr. Haueter – yes; Ms. LaFortune – yes; Mr. Roach – yes; Mr. Siegfried – yes; Mr. Thornton – yes; Mr. Woodard – yes.

The return from Executive Session was approved by majority vote and the regular meeting resumed at 3:52 p.m.

10. Adjournment

There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 3:55 p.m.

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