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Green Country Counties Struggle Against Jail Overcrowding

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At the Rogers County Jail there are so many inmates, the jail is only accepting felony arrests at this point. At the Rogers County Jail there are so many inmates, the jail is only accepting felony arrests at this point.
The jail capacity is 220 and the current inmate population is 158. The jail capacity is 220 and the current inmate population is 158.
Creek County built a new, larger jail seven years ago with a capacity of 348. Creek County built a new, larger jail seven years ago with a capacity of 348.

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Delaware County jail has been plagued with overcrowding since it was built in 2000. We looked at other county jails in Green Country to see what their inmate numbers look like.

The jails we checked are all below their maximum capacity, but jail administrators say it's a constant juggling act to balance out the numbers and keep below the limit.

At the Rogers County Jail there are so many inmates, the jail is only accepting felony arrests at this point.

"We're no longer getting average public drunkards. We're getting the burglars, the robbers, the murderer," said Lt. John Sappington of the Rogers County Jail.

The jail capacity is 220 and the current inmate population is 158. That's actually below average, but they typically run at about 180.

"It's difficult because of personnel. Currently with staffing, we have one in the tower and five on the floor. If an inmate gets sick and needs to go to the hospital or be transported for any other reason, that leaves four officers," Lt. Sappington said.

Lt. Sappington says the jail is operating with the same amount of staff they had in 2000 when the jail was built, while the inmate numbers have exploded.

"That is 60 inmates for every one officer," he said.

Tulsa County can handle a maximum of 1714. Right now, the jail has 1,568, which is close to its daily average.

Creek County built a new, larger jail seven years ago with a capacity of 348.

"We like to be around 290 to 300 to give us enough space for inmates we have to keep in a single cell such as medical observations, suicide watch, protective custody inmates," said Captain Kelly Birch, Creek County Jail Administrator.

Meth busts have flooded Creek County with more inmates the last few years. It also holds inmates for U.S. Marshals and small municipalities.

Right now, the jail has 311 people behind bars. Each inmate is charged $29 a day to help with costs.

"We used to house inmates for the State Department of Corrections. Our county inmates have increased, so we are no longer housing State Department of Corrections inmates under contract to make more room," Birch said.

The Wagoner County capacity is 150 and they're running at 106 inmates today, but things really start getting tight at 130.

Each county says if they have inmates on fines and costs warrants, they try to clear those out to make room for more violent offenders.

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