The Pryor Times

Crimes and courts

April 22, 2014

Jail loses $165K in revenue

PRYOR, OK — The recent Department of Corrections decision to pull inmates from county jails has taken a financial toll on Mayes County Jail.

“Wednesday they pulled eight inmates and Friday they pulled nine,” said Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed. “At $27 per person, per day this equals $459 per day. This means a $13,770 loss per month. That's a total of $165,240 for my budget this year.”

That number, Reed said, could easily increase as the remainder of the DOC inmates are removed.

“They could easily take another 17 this week. We average 35 DOC inmates at a time. And our average yearly revenue from these inmates is about $400,000,” said Reed. “So it could get much worse.”

As the DOC does not have the capacity to house the volume of inmates they are pulling from county jails, many early releases are being issued.

“They're essentially just turning them out as quick as they can. They are processing a lot of early releases,” said Reed.

Information regarding the change was issued earlier this month by new DOC Director Robert Patton on the DOC website.

“Facility operational costs and, more specifically, county jail backup bed growth has significantly impacted the budget of the Department of  Corrections. Efforts are underway to acquire additional funds through the legislative process and we are hopeful that additional funding will be provided. While we believe funding assistance will be received, the need to address county jail backup growth must continue,” according to the website.

Patton's statement continues to say the agency is statutorily required to accept offenders sentenced to their custody by the district courts of Oklahoma.

“To meet this obligation in the most financially responsible manner, staff has been working very hard to enable us to reduce county jail backup. This effort is multi-faceted and has involved many staff throughout the agency,” according to the site.

The initial steps the agency has reportedly taken to address the county jail backup include:

— Earned credits which were lost due to disciplinary action were restored to offenders who could immediately discharge had the credits not been taken.

— Beds have been added throughout the agency in locations that can be managed by current staffing levels and where fire marshal requirements can be met.

-The number of beds devoted to the male assessment and reception center has been expanded.

— The reception cycle has been reduced from nine to four days.

— The number of daily receptions has increased from 35 per day to 100.

— Policy changes are underway to improve the movement of offenders through the system to lower security and to improve offender re-entry.

“There's nothing else that can be done on my end, I can't cut anything. For every 20 inmates we have to have three employees on staff and we average 150 inmates. Right now, we're running three or four employees short,” said Reed. “State statute says the county has to fund the jail and I have to run it.”

Reed said the biggest problem the jail is facing, is that it is being funded through a non-recurring account, meaning there is no set revenue to count on.

He said this is a problem he's been warning the county of for a while, as it violates state statute.

“All the county can do is tax two percent. I do feel like they are trying to help me, we're putting our heads together and working as a team,” said Reed. “The next step will be waiting to see what the county's plan of action is.”

 

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