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Sheriffs get caught with hands in the state cookie jar.

Oklahoman Published: April 28, 2014

Kudos to new Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton for his move to save money by housing state inmates in state-owned facilities. I hope the public understands this has laid bare an insider racket that’s been enriching some counties and building empires for some county sheriffs. Some of them are claiming $500,000 in potential annual revenue losses because of Patton’s move.

That’s not chump change, but unless you’re an ambitious chump of a budget manager, you wouldn’t be in that position. Half a million a year, at $27 per inmate, per day, represents a daily state inmate census of 51, every day of the year. That’s not overflow. That’s an under-the-taxpayer-radar industry being used to fund general operations. It illustrates precisely the kinds of bad governance practices that cost us all. Shame on those sheriffs for howling about getting caught with their hands in the state cookie jar. And shame on their county commissioners for buying into what I consider taxpayer fraud.

Michael Barnett, Moore


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