theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

April 22, 2014

Sheriffs descend on state capitol

Oklahoma City — State efforts to save time and money by shuffling prisoners more swiftly through the system are riling local sheriffs who are losing money because of the efficiency program.

A change in Department of Corrections practice is landing a "significant hit" on two-thirds of Oklahoma counties, which depend on reimbursements to house state inmates locally, said Ken McNair, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association.

“The sheriffs are now in a position where they have to make adjustments to their budgets,” he said.

Sheriffs converged on the Capitol on Tuesday, filling the Senate gallery, in part to protest efforts to remove inmates from their custody. The change will cost the sheriffs — but save the state — millions each year.

In a years-old practice, the Department of Corrections has used county jails as holding facilities for inmates awaiting prison assignments. Some prisoners remain in local lock-up limbo for months.

The state pays the sheriffs $27 per day to keep each inmate.

About a month ago, the corrections department started expediting its assignments, reducing the average wait time for intake from nine days to four, in a bid to save as much as $13 million per year. Rather than accept 35 inmates per day into state prisons, the department now takes 100.

“Our goal is to not have any sort of jail backup,” said department spokesman Jerry Massie. The prison system gets 7,000 new inmates a year.

The state has reduced the number of its inmates housed in local jails from 1,900 to 1,048 in little less than a month, said Massie. The department has built capacity at various prisons across the state and is trying to make sure all of its lower-security beds are full.

“Obviously we need to manage our budget, and $13 million is a fairly sizable amount,” he said.

But the sudden course reversal inflicts pain on counties that rely on that $13 million.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks
Poll

Are you pleased that Oklahoma has repealed Common Core standards for public school students?

Yes
No
     View Results