Oklahoma Department of Corrections interim director Joe Allbaugh told his staff Friday to stop sending inmates to the Oklahoma County Jail.
The order came after Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater suggested county commissioners consider cancelling their contract with the state, The Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:
The idea came up in response to recent notices of violation from the Oklahoma State Department of Health for deficiencies at the facility at 201 N. Shartel Ave. One of those deficiencies involved inadequate space for each detainee.
“I don’t think under any standard you can say those cells are appropriate for three or triple-bunking at all,” Prater said. “When we voluntarily bring in 200 Department of Corrections inmates and thus exacerbate the issue of triple-celling in our own facility … my immediate response would be that we decrease the population to the jail that we can voluntarily.”
The proposal will be discussed further at the commissioners’ next regularly scheduled meeting May 4.
The contract has a full value of $2.3 million dollars a year. Because the fiscal year ends at the end of June, the county will only lose about 10 percent of the money.
However, the split between the state and the county will affect long-term budget plans, Deputy Commissioner Rich Buchanan told Brus:
However, commissioners soon will be setting the next fiscal year budget, so the long-term budgeting ramifications are significant, Deputy Commissioner Rick Buchanan said.
According to department records, the state department has similar agreements with 13 other county detention centers. The latest weekly population tally shows 613 people housed at those sites, including the Oklahoma County jail.
Watkins said none of the other counties have spoken to Allbaugh about canceling their contracts.
The department also has 16,780 inmates at 17 state centers and 5,981 people at three private prisons. Inmates already at the county jail will not be affected.
The Department of Corrections did not say where it plans to send inmates instead.
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