Prison (copy)

Inmates walk through a security gate at Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy. During the 2019 fiscal year, about 64% of inmates had a history of mental illness or were currently exhibiting some form of mental illness. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file

The number of psychologists employed by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has dwindled during recent years.

The agency currently has nine psychologists and 22 vacancies, a staffing level that the agency’s chief mental health officer described as critical. Those nine psychologists include three clinical coordinators, who have caseloads but also serve as regional supervisors.

Dr. Janna Morgan, chief mental health officer, said the understaffing issue is largely due to pay.

“When we talk to staff as they’re leaving, that’s their No. 1 concern,” Morgan told the Board of Corrections during a presentation about mental health services and needs last week in Oklahoma City.

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