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Lawmakers Seek Studies on Prison Staffing, Other Criminal Justice Issues – Oklahoma Watch

State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, has spent much of the summer sounding the alarm over Oklahomas prison understaffing problem.

On June 18 he asked Gov. Kevin Stitt to declare a state of emergency, arguing that low staffing numbers have elevated the risk of riots and violence in state prisons. Hes appeared on weekly Facebook Live broadcasts with Bobby Cleveland, director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals group, to provide updates on what hes hearing from prison workers.

Humphreys work will continue this fall when he hosts an interim study on prison staffing and other areas of improvement to the Department of Corrections. He said his goal is to bring criminal justice reform advocates, corrections department workers and other stakeholders together to brainstorm possible solutions.

Its just unbelievable, these guys are working like crazy, said Humphrey, a former Department of Corrections employee who chairs the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee. I looked at one [timesheet] and out of 96 hours this guy had worked 60 hours.

On June 21 Oklahoma Watch published an in-depth report on the states struggle to hire and retain prison workers. Two former corrections officers quoted in the article said they found their job fulfilling but excessive hours took a toll on their physical and mental wellbeing. Two others said they could handle the overtime but became frustrated with management and decided to leave.

The state paid $19.4 million in overtime wages to corrections department employees in 2020, up 46% from 2017. Corrections officials say hiring and retaining workers can be challenging due to the difficult nature of the job and because most prisons are located in sparsely populated areas. The starting hourly wage for a correctional officer recruit is $15.74 an hour.

The agency has not released an official count of corrections officers. As of mid-June, the corrections department had 314 fully-funded, vacant positions.

The Legislature approved H.B. 2908, a line-item budget item last session that mandates the Department of Corrections spend $8 million annually to improve its correctional officer to prisoner ratio.

Humphrey says hell seek answers on how the corrections department plans to spend those funds while addressing other transparency-related issues. The agency has faced criticism from several lawmakers over its decision to close the William S. Key Correctional Center without legislative input. During a June 29 Senate hearing, corrections officials said they planned to inform lawmakers of their decision but an exclusive report by the Woodward News thwarted that plan.

Seventeen other interim studies on criminal justice issues take place from August through early November. These studies, requested by members of the House and Senate and approved by chamber leadership, dont usually generate official reports or recommendations but often help guide future legislation. Official meeting times and locations will be posted on the House and Senate websites.

Here are five other studies worth tracking:

Requested by: Reps. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City and Justin Humphrey, R-Lane

This study will explore ways to improve the safety, wellbeing and treatment of prisoners and correctional officers.

Last fall and winter, state prisoners and their family members complained that corrections staff werent following pandemic protocols and that prisoners were receiving small, carbohydrate-heavy meals. Meanwhile, correctional officers worry that persistent understaffing could cause a spike in prisoner-on-staff violence.

Advocates have also raised concerns over conditions at the Oklahoma County Detention Center. During a February inspection, state health department investigators discovered mold, bedbugs and cockroaches in several housing units. Jail administrators who submitted a corrective action report in early June say theyve ramped up efforts to hire more staff and keep housing units clean.

Former prisoners and correctional officers will be invited to participate in the meeting, according to the study proposal.

Requested by: Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa

This study (IS-2021-13) will look at felony classification systems in other states and how sentencing reform could help reduce Oklahomas prison population.

Oklahoma is among the few states that dont group felony offenses by severity. For example, in Texas the most serious non-capital offenses are classified as first-degree felonies punishable by five years to life in prison. Each crime in Oklahoma has a unique sentencing range determined by the legislature.

Criminal justice reform advocates say implementing a statewide felony classification system could help standardize sentencing practices, eliminate antiquated laws and ultimately reduce Oklahomas incarceration rate.

In 2018 the legislature voted to create the Attorney Generals Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council, a group of 22 district attorneys, retired judges, legislators and corrections department officials tasked with analyzing the states criminal sentencing code and offering reform proposals.

In March the council released a draft of sentencing reform recommendations. FWD.US, a Washington, D.C.-based prison advocacy group, has criticized the proposal, saying it would actually increase the states prison population by 1,000 over the next decade if implemented.

Rader introduced Senate Bill 704, a measure similar to State Question 805 that would have prohibited courts from imposing sentence enhancements on defendants who have never been convicted of a violent felony, defined as any offense listed in Section 571 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes. It passed through the Senate Public Safety Committee but stalled last session in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Requested by: Sens. Casey Murdock, R-Felt and Roger Thompson, R-Okemah

This study will examine how the Department of Corrections decides which prisons to close.

Northwest Oklahoma lawmakers were caught off guard by the agencys June 16 announcement that it would close the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply by the end of 2021. The minimum-security mens prison housed about 900 prisoners and employed 140 staff.

Prison officials admit the announcement was botched but have stood by their decision, saying it would cost more than $40 million to repair its leaking roof and antiquated heating and cooling system. Murdock questioned why the agency didnt fix those maintenance problems sooner.

While the agency doesnt need legislative or board approval to close a prison, Murdock and other lawmakers have argued they need to be more transparent when deciding whether or not to close a prison because their decisions impact rural economies. Many of Fort Supplys 330 residents worked at the prison.

More prison closures could come as Oklahomas prison population continues to drop. There were 21,641 prisoners in state custody on July 26, down from 26,544 three years ago. Experts say a combination of justice reforms taking effect and the COVID-19 pandemics impact on district courts are contributing to the decline.

Requested by: Eight Republican representatives

Lawmakers will examine the state legislatures role in funding district courts.

Oklahomas 77 district courts rely heavily on fine and fee collections to fund basic operations. In 2014, 49% of the $152 million in fines collected by district courts was used on facility maintenance and to pay court employees. From 2007 to 2019, less than a quarter of district court funding came from state appropriations.

Boosting state funding to district courts could help alleviate the burden on justice-involved people, who are often arrested and thrown in jail for failing to pay a court fine, advocates say.

Requested by: Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond

Legislators involved in IS-2021-54 will evaluate Oklahomas criminal record expungement law and analyze reforms that other states have adopted to streamline the process.

Under current state law, most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony convictions are eligible for expungement five years after the completion of a sentence if the defendant has not been charged with or convicted of a new crime. Expungement can make it easier for those with a criminal record to find housing and employment, but its typically a time-consuming and expensive process.

Lawmakers in Utah and Pennsylvania have enacted laws granting automatic record expungement to most misdemeanor defendants after a certain amount of time has passed. Researchers say these clean slate laws remove financial barriers to expungement and benefit people who are no longer a threat to public safety.

Keaton Ross is a Report for America corps member who covers prison conditions and criminal justice issues for Oklahoma Watch. Contact him at (405) 831-9753 or him on Twitter at @_KeatonRoss

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

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Lawmakers Seek Studies on Prison Staffing, Other Criminal Justice Issues - Oklahoma Watch

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New Year, New Top City on Orkin’s 2021 Bed Bug Cities List: Chicago – PRNewswire

After joining the list last year, Toledo saw the biggest jump moving up 23 spots to number 27. Denver and Charleston both broke into the top 20, and six new cities joined the top 50 list for the first time this year.

The list is based on treatment data from the metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatmentsfrom December 1, 2019 November 30, 2020. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

Typically, bed bugs are 3/16 inch long and are mostly nocturnal insects that come out of hiding to take blood meals from sleeping humans and are red to dark brown in color. Bed bugs are hematophagous, which means blood is their only food source. They can travel from place to place with ease, including items such as luggage, purses and other personal belongings.

"Bed bugs are a concern for everyone because they are master hitchhikers, traveling home with people when they likely don't realize it," said Ben Hottel, an Orkin entomologist. "Their nature of hiding in difficult-to-find cracks and crevices once introduced into a room can make them hard to control, which is why involving a trained professional at the sight of an introduction is recommended."

With the anticipation and excitement around 2021 travel, it's easy to forget that bed bugs are still very much a threat and should be top of mind for anyone who is itching to take a trip. Bed bugs can survive for several months while waiting for their next blood meal, so they're likely to emerge when a food source, humans, become available.

Whether you decide to travel or want to be proactive at your home, remember the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to inspect for bed bugs:

Celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, Orkin is proud to have achieved 120 years of business, an accomplishment that can be attributed to the company's ongoing commitment to excellent service. With well over a century of knowledge and experience with bed bugs and state-of-the-art tools and products, Orkin is well-equipped to assess your bed bug problem and mount a strategic response to rid your home of the pest and provide maximum protection.

For more information about bed bug prevention, visit You can also find additional detection tips in Orkin's video on "How to Check for Bed Bugs in Hotel Rooms."

About Orkin, LLCFounded in 1901, Atlanta-based Orkin is an industry leader in essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects. Proudly celebrating 120years of business this year, the company is committed to excellent service and operates more than 400 locations with more than 8,000 employees. Through Orkin's Points of Service process Investigate, Protect, Fortify, Keep Watch, Report and Follow Up Orkin provides customized services to approximately 1.7 million homeowners and businesses in the United States and has nearly 100 international locations in more than 65 countries. Orkin is committed to studying pest biology and applying scientifically proven methods. The company collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and eight major universities to conduct research and help educate consumers and businesses on pest-related health threats. Learn more about Orkin Orkin is a wholly-owned subsidiary ofRollins Inc.(NYSE: ROL). Follow us onFacebook,LinkedIn, YouTubeand Instagram.


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New Year, New Top City on Orkin's 2021 Bed Bug Cities List: Chicago - PRNewswire

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Congrats, Cincinnati! We’re Among Orkin’s Top Bed Bug Cities – Cincinnati CityBeat

The pest-control company features a whopping six Ohio cities on its 2021 list of 50 metros that bed bugs love.

Bed bug nymphPhoto: Public Domain You can feel your skin crawling after reading that headline, cant you?

There may be a reason for that. Orkin, the national pest-control company, says that Cincinnati is among the top cities for bed bugs.

Cincinnati comes in at No. 8 on Orkins list of 50 bug-friendly cities for 2020, released on Feb. 1. The company based its list on data for metro areas with the most bed-bug treatments Dec. 1, 2019-Nov. 30, 2020. Orkin says the data includes both residential and commercial treatments.

But Cincinnati isnt the only Ohio location drawing warnings from Orkin. The Buckeye State has a whopping six cities that are bed-bug havens. Columbus is at No. 5, followed by Cleveland at No. 6., Toledo at No. 27, and Dayton at No. 28. Youngstown enters the list for the first time at No. 40.

Chicago tops Orkins list this year, followed by Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Bed bugs are about 3/16 long and often move from location to location via purses and luggage.

Orkin says that bed bugs are a big issue, despite travel being limited in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And with vaccines now being distributed and people beginning to plan the years activities, things still could be itchy for 2021.

With the anticipation and excitement around 2021 travel, its easy to forget that bed bugs are still very much a threat and should be top of mind for anyone who is itching to take a trip, Orkin says in a release on its website. Bed bugs can survive for several months while waiting for their next blood meal, so theyre likely to emerge when a food source, humans, become available.

Hamilton County Public Health features a guide to bed bugs on its website, including how to prevent the insects from becoming a problem in the first place.

Indirect measures can go a long way in controlling bed bugs: monitoring for signs of bedbugs in your home, vacuuming regularly, and checking your belongings. Prevent bed bugs from getting into homes by checking clothing, used furniture and belongings before entering the home and monitor where you have visited. Continue to reduce clutter and unwanted items in your home and hire a professional exterminator to inspect your home if you suspect there are bedbugs, the website says..

In 2020, Orkin ranked the Queen City as No. 8.

Read the full list of cities that bed bugs apparently love on Orkins website.

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Congrats, Cincinnati! We're Among Orkin's Top Bed Bug Cities - Cincinnati CityBeat

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Bed Bugs On The Rise, Despite Covid-19, New Study Suggests – Forbes

Bed bug feeding on human skin.

A new study concluded this week that bed bugs were such a problem in France that they now pose a national health hazard.

The creatures have been on the rise globally but in the past decade, bed bugs have proliferatedthey are now found in every U.S. state and countries across Europe have seen huge infestations, notably Paris (which is the number one visited capital in the world).

At the beginning of 2020, the French Union for Pest Control stated that, Frances bed bug problem has seen the number of cases go from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years.

The French government website states that they arrived in France in the 1950s with the advent of international travel and have proliferated because of their increasing resistance to insecticide. It says that bedrooms and living rooms are predominantly more affected.

A New York Times article suggested that 1 in 5 Americans have been plagued by bed bugs or know someone who has. Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles were the most plagued.

Christian Cadieux (R), owner of Bed Bugs Bite fumigates a mattress as part of their process to get ... [+] rid of bed bugs.

Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to remove. They hitch a ride on suitcases and clothes. They can live for many months without having a drink of human blood. To kill them, you need temperatures of minus four degrees Fahrenheit. They reproduce quickly and are immune to common insecticides. They are not fussy about cleanliness or dirtthey are a great leveller in that sense. They can lay two to five eggs each day and you just need one pregnant female to start a brood. They are also incredibly difficult to find.

Quoted from the New York Times, a report by French doctors,writing in The New England Journal of Medicinein June, stated that between blood meals, bedbugs hide in dark places, such as household cracks and crevices, walls, luggage, bedclothes, mattresses, bedsprings, bed frames, spaces under baseboards, loose or peeling wallpaper, electrical switch plates and conduits for electrical cables.

Bed bugs feast mostly at night, crawling from human host to host, leaving bites, but it is the psychological damage which can be most affecting. Bed bugs do not carry infectious diseases.

A bed bug in a flat in Hong Kong on May 26, 2017.

The study analysed 72,000 consultations with doctors across France from April 2019 to March 2020 who reported issues with bed bugsamounting to 110 out of every 100,000 inhabitants in France. 98% of reported cases had suffered from skin lesions (itchy bites), 37% said they had suffered from insomnia as a result and 37% claimed the presence of bed bugs had had a negative impact on their professional, family and social life.

As reported byrfi, they increase in numbers in warmer weather with the two worst affected regions in France being the Auvergne-Rhne-Alpes region and Provence-Alpes-Cte dAzur, the coastal region on the Mediterranean. There were very few reported cases in Paris, but because the data comes from GPs, it is unlikely to include tourists, who would probably visit their own doctors upon their return, as The Local points out.

France launched a prevention campaign in February, which formed the basis of the campaign for one of the candidates for Paris mayor, where people can receive advice on prevention and cure. There is a website ( and a hotline (0806 706 806).

It remains to be seen what impact Covid-19 and the slowdown of global travel will have on the bed bug population.

To search for bed bugs, check the seams of the mattress, where they love to congregate and then blast it with a hairdryer as the warm air should encourage them into the open.

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Bed Bugs On The Rise, Despite Covid-19, New Study Suggests - Forbes

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Bed Bugs Information | doh – Washington, D.C.

Bed bugs were extinct in the United States decades ago. Two things, however, have changed since those times: Social conscience and healthy-living initiatives have caused us to discontinue use of caustic insecticides, and an increase in global travel has allowed bed bugs to travel to the United States via human travelers and their belongings. Now, our nation is much more habitable for the bed bugs. The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius Linnaeus) is a parasite which lives on the outside of the body of the host. Bed bugs feed only on the blood of warm-blooded hosts. They can conceal themselves in any tight crack or crevice, and are often found in padding, such as mattresses and box springs. They can also hide behind electrical faceplates, baseboards, folded areas of beds, bedding, adjacent furniture, picture frames, wallpaper and nearly anywhere inside a shelter, apartment, or structure. Bed bugs do not discriminate and have been known to thrive in the fanciest hotels and homes, to the most modest dwellings.

Unlike cockroaches, bed bugs travel by hitchhiking, and commonly take a ride on a human host, or a persons garments or travel bags. Bed bugs usually feed at night but can take a blood meal during the day, especially in heavily-infested areas. They usually require 5-10 minutes to engorge with the hosts blood. After feeding, they move to a secluded place and hide for 5-10 days. During this time, they do not feed, but instead digest their meal, mate, and lay eggs. Here are some quick facts:

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Bed Bugs Information | doh - Washington, D.C.

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