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May 4, 2014

DOC to move inmates

Local facilities feel financial impact

CLAREMORE —

A recent decision by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to reduce inmate populations in county facilities is affecting the Rogers County Criminal Justice Authority.
The trust met Thursday and discussed the potential long-term budgetary impact of the decision.
This year alone, approximately $700,000 in revenue has been generated by housing DOC inmates, Undersheriff Jon Sappington said.
The funds are a source of revenue used to balance the Criminal Justice Authority’s $2.6 million annual budget, according to Sappington.
“DOC is going to attempt to eliminate beds from all county facilities. If this pace continues we will need to find another source of revenue,” he said.
The capacity of the Rogers County Jail is between 160 and 180 inmates. Primarily food and medical expenses fluctuate with changes in population. The cost of running the jail remains the same regardless of population, according to Sappington.
Although some liability increased through the housing of DOC inmates, it has helped subsidize the cost of running the facility, he said.
Another increased expense for the jail will be the transportation of inmates. Inmates will be sent to DOC within seven days of sentencing, Sappington said.
“Do we shut the jail down?” Oologah Mayor Jerry Holland asked.
It will have a different effect on jails across the state, according to Sappington. 
“It will devastate some of these small jails,” he added.
“If the courts are putting all these people in jail. It sounds to me the jail business is just a money making business,” said Commissioner Kirt Thacker. “The courts just put people in jail for minor offenses. Are the courts working to fine people rather than to incarcerate them?”
“I totally disagree with your premise,” said Judge Dynda Post. “…We have a treatment court for everything short of a hangnail.”
Post explained the courts have several treatment courts including drug court, community sentencing court, truancy court and six probationary courts.

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