Man claims he was held in Oklahoma jail for months after his sentence expired

A Texas man is suing the Pittsburg County jail, the Oklahoma Corrections Department and others after he sat in jail for months following his scheduled release, court records show.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: February 16, 2013 at 1:32 am •  Published: February 17, 2013
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“Defendants are without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations (of a June 11, 2011, release date),” her attorneys wrote. “The Oklahoma Department of Corrections sets release dates for felony convictions.”

Court records show that Payne was sentenced Feb. 8, 2010, on felony stalking charges. Six months later, he was sentenced for violating a protective order, a misdemeanor.

A Pittsburg County court clerk employee said court records indicate Payne is to be supervised by the state Corrections Department while he's on probation.

A search of the state Corrections Department's online records system finds no listing for James C. Payne.

In the lawsuit, Payne claims to have been released in September 2011, roughly three months after his release date.

Payne is seeking monetary damages in federal court and claims his belongings, which were housed in a storage locker, were auctioned because of his prolonged incarceration.

The Corrections Department and some of the guards listed in Payne's lawsuit have not responded to the suit, records show.

A growing problem

The Corrections Department has roughly 1,700 inmates awaiting transfer to state prisons, a number that has grown nearly 300 percent in the last decade as state prisons deal with overcrowding.

Each year, the state agency pays counties about $20 million to house these inmates, who can stay for months before moving to a state prison.

Many counties, large and small, have publicly complained about the county jail backlog issue.

In June 2012, Bryan County officials sued the state prison system to try and persuade a judge to raise the $27-per-day rate.

The lawsuit, filed last year by the Bryan County Board of Commissioners, is pending in Oklahoma County District Court.

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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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