The Moore American

Local News

September 26, 2012

County questions inmate billing

MOORE — Detention center still over capacity

County commissioners questioned the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office during a regular meeting Monday about billing the Department of Corrections for their inmates being held in the county jail.

Currently, the sheriff’s office is only billing the DOC whenever convicted inmates are picked up. Commissioner Rod Cleveland asked why they didn’t bill the DOC monthly.

Sheriff Joe Lester said they are only billing them when inmates are picked up because that is what they were instructed to do at the old jail. Lester said since the DOC was always picking up their inmates at the old jail, the sheriff’s office didn’t have the same problem then as they do now: being over capacity.

The new jail has been over capacity for weeks because the DOC has not been picking up all of their inmates during their monthly transfers. They are only scheduled to pick up 10 to 15 inmates every month.

Lester said part of the problem is the DOC doesn’t have room for them.

Last week, there were about 98 inmates eligible to be transferred, and the jail was holding 411 inmates. On Monday morning, the sheriff reported they were down by five this week.

The jail is considered “over capacity” because only 350 prisoners are supposed to be held without opening any additional pods. However, they already have had to open a third pod to hold the extra inmates waiting to be transferred.

Commissioner Cleveland said the sheriff’s office could be billing the DOC monthly to not only help with the cost of food but also for additional staff needed for opening the third pod.

Undersheriff Rhett Burnett said they have been in contact with the person who does the sheriff’s office billing and with the DOC to possibly change the billing method.

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