The frustration level of Oklahoma prison guards seems to be rising with the summer temperatures. The Department of Corrections estimates it is 600 guards short of what is authorized to run our state prisons.

A plan announced last week will add guards and raise the pay of the ones that are working now. Senate Democrats say it will cost $10.6 million to hire more guards and provide for the raises.

Three inmates have died at the hands of other inmates this year. Two have been stabbed to death and a prison sweep this past week uncovered about 20 knives. Last year, according to the Associated Press, 351 inmates were written up for having weapons. That's up about 75 inmates over the previous year.

We hope it doesn't take a prison riot or the death of other inmates or prison employees to get the attention of Republican lawmakers. Many of them, including House Speaker Todd Hiett, don't see the need to call a special session back to address corrections issues.

Associated Press Writer Ron Jenkins says the state was in the same situation in 1995, only it was Republicans calling for the special session instead of Democrats. Then-Gov. Frank Keating warned the public of violent prisoners being released into communities.

State Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, proposed a plan to add 150 more prison guards and 54 more probation officers right away. The number of additional guards eventually would increase by 450. The total cost of the package would be $20.5 million for a full year.

We don't think we should wait for a tragedy to play out before addressing the problem. Seven months is a long time to wait for a public safety issue that should have been taken care of months ago.

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