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Corrections Department may have to pay more to house inmates in Oklahoma's county jails

The state Corrections Department may soon be paying more to house inmates in county jails, an Oklahoma County district judge has ruled.
by Andrew Knittle and Nolan Clay Modified: September 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm •  Published: September 11, 2013

During a recent interview with The Oklahoman, Sturch called the county jail backlog issue “a common concern” among sheriffs statewide. He also said he understood the issues facing the Corrections Department, whose facilities are just as overcrowded as Oklahoma's county jails.

“We charge $40 per day to house inmates from Durant and surrounding communities,” he said. “We just feel like the state should at least pay the same.”

Bryan County Commissioners Monty Montgomery and Jay Perry did not return calls seeking comment on the judge's ruling.

County jails are cheaper for state

Jerry Massie, Corrections Department spokesman, said it's unclear at this point how the ruling will affect the cash-strapped agency if it survives the appeals process.

According to the agency's most recent annual report, the cost of housing inmates at Oklahoma prisons is significantly higher than the rate paid to county jails across the state.

For instance, records show that it costs $37.39 each day to house an inmate at a minimum-security prison, a figure that doesn't include medical expenses. For inmates doing time at a maximum-security prison, the daily cost is $78.50.

“Housing inmates at county jails is cheaper than having them in our custody or a private prison, so there obviously would be some impact there,” Massie said. “We just don't know what that will be if the appeals fail.”

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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