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March 12, 2014

Local crime may contribute to jail funding problem

CHICKASHA —

Local crime may also be a contributing factor to the difficulty of sleeping federal inmates at the Grady County Jail. 

The Jail operates in a fashion where it receives a substantial portion of its income from the federal government, which pays $57 a night for their prisoners to stay in Grady. 

Local arrests tie up beds and make it more difficult to find space for federal inmates, according to Senior Principal for Capital Detention Systems LLC Truman Bidelspach, the contract consultants for the Grady County Justice Authority. 

"We have to look to the future of public safety in Grady County," he said. "If there is another method we can explore other than incarceration of non-violent criminals, then we need to explore it." 

Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir said the issue rests with the jail and it's up to that facility to find room for inmates, but he has made suggestions on how to combat this problem. 

"I've said if we need room for federal inmates, we should make contact with local county prisons and see if we can move some our prisoners there if we get full," he said. 

Today, HB 2804 will see a vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The bill, authored by Representative Scott Biggs (R-Chickasha), addresses the state Department of Corrections alleged abuse of county jails. 

Currently, state law allows the DOC to pay county jails $27 per day to house their inmates. This cost creates a $13 daily shortfall per inmate in Grady County, as the DOC allocates $40 per day, per inmate in its budget, according to Grady County Commissioner Jack Porter.

HB 2804 allows the presiding district judge of each county to set a daily reimbursement rate if the DOC and county are unable to reach an agreement on cost. 

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