NORMAN — The Cleveland County sheriff's office began transferring inmates Saturday morning to the new jail on the north side of Norman.
Undersheriff Rhett Burnett offered few details about the transfer of inmates other than to confirm the process began Saturday morning.
Inmates were brought to the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center in convoys of patrol cars.
The old jail downtown housed about 170 inmates and was often described as being overcrowded.
The county even had to pay Pottawatomie County each month to house dozens of its inmates.
“At the time of the completion of this facility, we have over 30 prisoners that were being housed at the Pottawatomie County jail,” Sheriff Joe Lester said at the grand opening of the jail in January. “So, this is going to save the taxpayers some more money, just by getting this facility open.”
A $26 million state-of-the-art facility, the new jail will have the capacity to house more than 540 prisoners. The sprawling jail is at U.S. 77 and Franklin Road. It is expected to serve the county for years.
“It's anticipated this new facility will last much longer than the old jail,” Lester said. “We look for it to be just like it is today in 20 or 30 years.”
The fate of the old jail, built in 1984, has yet to be determined. The sheriff said he didn't think the county would use it to house inmates from counties with overcrowding problems.
“I think we will just be housing our own inmates here,” Lester said. “The future of the old facility is up to our county commissioners.”
The F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center was paid for using a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008. To date, the tax has generated roughly $20 million, exceeding commissioners' expectations from the outset.