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September 15, 2013

DOC money pit

State agency's actions have imprisoned Grady County revenue stream

CHICKASHA —

A cadre of Grady County politicians have set out to stop the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) from abusing county jails. 

State Representative Scott Biggs (R-Alex) is in the process of drafting legislation that would combat over crowding and financial hardships brought on by the DOC leaving their inmates in facilities, like Grady's, for an extended period of time. 

"These jails are absolutely being taken advantage of by the DOC," Biggs said. 

Laws that require the DOC to move their prisoners to a state facility 45 days after their paperwork is processed are being ignored, said Biggs.

Legally the DOC only has to pay county jails $27 a day, per inmate, but Grady County Commissioner Jack Porter said the DOC allocates  $40  a day, per inmate in its budget. This creates a $13 shortfall per inmate, per day for Grady County.  

At the moment, the state house's legal staff is reviewing Bigg's legislation. Biggs said the final draft could address reimbursement amounts, the length of time DOC prisoners stay in county jails, or both. 

"This is an issue that affects Grady County and every county around us," Biggs said. 

The legislation is guaranteed a hearing, since State Representative Leslie Osborn (R-Tuttle) is the chairperson of the House's Judiciary Committee and has assisted Biggs in planning the bill. 

"Obviously there are some problems in the state we need to address," she said. "Scott (Biggs) and I have had really good conversations about these problems, and we are looking to file this bill in December, so we can discuss it during the 2014 session."

State Senator Ron Justice (R-Chickasha) said he and Osborn met with Porter and other Grady County representatives to address the effects of the DOC's actions on the Grady County Jail. 

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