A Sex Offender and a Murderer Might Have Saved Oklahoma a Ton of Money

Three Oklahoma inmates are receiving a lot of good press for an innovation that lawmakers say could save the state $20 million annually.

The three men — prisoners at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center — created a prison data collection program that tracks numbers related to inmate meals.

The inmates' names have been withheld, but an Oklahoma Corrections Department spokesperson Jerry Massie told NewsOK that one is a murderer and at least one has a sex-related violation. The third offender's crime was not reported.

The program was fully coded by the three prisoners. While originally intended to catch prisoners who got on the food line twice, the program also helps prison administrators hone food orders based on the most popular meals.

Tracking the food data also quickly revealed the prison's food vendor, Sysco, was charging different facilities different prices for the same items.

Oklahoma prisons aren't exactly technologically advanced — some prisons still track similar data by hand with pen and paper — and lawmakers want to implement the program through the state.

But they're also wary of letting prisoners control the coding.

“If they build on what they’ve done here, they actually have to script it out. If you have inmates writing code, there has to be a continual auditing process,” state Rep. Jason Murphey told the Washington Post. “Food in prison is a commodity. It’s currency.”

[image via Shutterstock]