The Moore American

Local News

February 13, 2013

County jail costs higher than state reimbursement

MOORE — With the new calendar year underway, Cleveland County’s elected leadership is looking at cost-efficient means of housing jail prisoners.

Commissioners also will consider adding prayer to the commission agenda as well as other procedural changes including moving the Board of County Commissioners meeting to Monday afternoons. Also under consideration is an automated agenda system that would make county government more transparent and accessible online.

Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester said Oklahoma Department of Corrections reimbursements are about half of what it costs to house prisoners in the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center. As of Monday morning, 389 prisoners were being housed in the county jail facility. Of those, 88 are DOC prisoners with 71 already processed with judgment and sentencing.

Those 71 prisoners are awaiting transport to a DOC facility as soon as the space is available. In the meantime, the state must reimburse the county for their expenses. That rate is set by statute at $27 Lester told Cleveland County Commissioners at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday.

Estimates from two years ago indicate housing prisoners costs Cleveland County $54 per day and that cost is low, Lester said.

Currently, cities throughout Cleveland County pay $45 per day for housing their prisoners at F. DeWayne Beggs.

“We’ll refigure the fee,” Lester said. “Whatever that cost is will be the new fee.”

Commissioner Rusty Sullivan, District 3, said the cost is lower in other counties. He asked if Cleveland County could save money by transferring those prisoners to other counties who would bill the state directly.

“I’m just trying to figure out some way to help save money,” Sullivan said.

Lester said he would not be comfortable with that. He questioned whether Cleveland County could be held liable if a prisoner sued because of poor care in another county’s facility.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Robertson said he would research the matter, but he did not think the county would be liable if another county took custody of the prisoners.

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