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September 15, 2013

DOC money pit

State agency's actions have imprisoned Grady County revenue stream

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CHICKASHA —

"I've sat down with the DOC and tried to get them to understand how critical this is to the smaller counties," Justice said. "Now this is a 2-step process. We have to work on fighting and improving this for the next few months, while also planning a longterm fix with legislation."

Justice said Grady's jail is in a unique situation. 

The jail was built without tax money, and is mostly maintained by funds received from the federal government when they have their witnesses or prisoners stay in the facility during transport. 

"That's the purpose our jail serves," Justice said" In addition to housing our inmates, it serves as a transfer stop."

The jail is frequently at max capacity, said Porter, which means when the federal government looks to sleep a bus of 70 prisoners in Grady, the jail has to turn them away. 

"If we are loaded up with DOC prisoners we can't take them," said Porter. "We have some prisoners the DOC has left in our jail for more than a year."

There are currently close to 70 DOC inmates in Grady County. The federal government pays the jail $57 a night, per inmate compared to DOC's $27 a night rate. The majority of the jail's monetary security comes from the Federal payout, which has lessened due to overcrowding brought on by the influx of DOC inmates. 

Porter said the problem will lead to the jail running a deficit, which translates to severe budget cuts at the county level or possible tax increases to offset the revenue loss. 

"If the jail can't pay for itself like it is supposed to, then the county will have to find another way to makeup the money," said Porter. "That's why this needs to change." 

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