The Duncan Banner
Oklahoma Department of Corrections efforts to move county inmates to DOC prisons has helped the Stephens County Jail dip below capacity.
But Sheriff Wayne McKinney wonders why it took so long to happen when the county jail was overcrowded for several years.
Throughout the State of Oklahoma, county sheriffs have had a negative reaction to the Department of Corrections moving county prisoners because those county jails rely on the reimbursement from the DOC for daily operations.
McKinney has a different point of view. He said it’s a positive thing for Stephens County because it eliminates an overcrowding issue at the county jail.
But DOC’s willingness to take inmates now leaves McKinney wondering what changed. He said he has been requesting help from the Department of Corrections because the jail has had overcrowding issues for about four years.
“We’re in a little bit different situation here,” McKinney said. “Our predicament is we’ve been facing overcrowding. Some have been in our jail for over a year. We’ve got a jail inspector who’s looking at us because of overcrowding.”
He said the Department of Corrections reimburses county jails $27 per inmate per day. McKinney said the move may further benefit the Stephens County Jail by not only removing excess inmates, but reducing the costs to house inmates.
“You can’t house an inmate on $27 a day,” McKinney said. “You actually lose money. It costs about $35 to $38 a day to house an inmate. It’s actually costing our jail to do it.”
McKinney said, prior to DOC taking the inmates, the Stephens County Jail was facing a fine relating to overcrowding. The jail has a capacity of 162 inmates, but at one time was pushing 200. The jail has a little more than 140 inmates.
“We have been asking DOC to take prisoners,” McKinney said. “How do they find room overnight to house them?”
Although Stephens County doesn’t rely on the reimbursement to fund the daily operations of the jail because of a tax supporting the jail, McKinney said the Department of Corrections might have made the move too quickly. Some jails do rely on those funds, he said, and losing that revenue could leave a lasting impact on those jails.
“I think the state overreacted,” McKinney said. “They should have done this on a progressive level.”