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April 22, 2014

RCSO against DOC’s plans to move state prisoners out

CLAREMORE —

Rogers County Undersheriff Jon Sappington spoke with county commissioners Monday about his concerns with plans to remove state inmates from county jails.
In order to save money at the state level, new Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton plans to pull DOC inmates from county jails and place them into vacant beds at work centers and halfway houses, nearly tripling the intake rate of prisoners in state facilities — from 32 per day to approximately 100.
Sappington said about 10 years ago, the DOC needed beds for their inmates and there was no hope to build any state prisons. They requested help from county sheriffs and commissioners who responded by building bigger jails for county inmates to accommodate the excess in state prisons.
“A law was passed, allowing for a per diem for the DOC inmate to be used to augment the jail operation. Jail budgets were set up and projected to cover the extra cost of housing DOC inmates,” Ray McNair, executive director of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association, said in a statewide email to sheriffs Friday.
Sappington said once DOC inmates get sentenced to prison, the state pays the sheriff’s office $27 a day per inmate.
“For every 10 inmates, I can generate about $100,000 and I would try to hold 20 to reach my $200,000 mark. Between 2008 and 2010, our inmate count was so high that we had to rush and flush state prisoners to keep count down,” said Sappington. 
“Since then, we’ve had a really good relationship with the judges and DA’s office to keep the count down to carry that burden, while still using needed funds to operate the jail. We have been averaging about 30-50 inmates for the last two years now.”
He said he cannot blame the DOC for wanting to house their inmates, but it is going to leave a financial strain on the county jails.

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