Tulsa County Jail Tells Officers With Municipal Arrests: 'No Vacancy'
Paul Crockett, Newson6.com
TULSA, Oklahoma - The booking area at the Tulsa County jail was bursting at the seams Saturday morning. With over 40 inmates waiting to be processed, Tulsa area law enforcement agencies were informed over their radios that the David L. Moss Center was not taking any new inmates.
Tulsa Sheriff's Office Corporal Al Wilson told the News On 6 it was a temporary situation. He said the message was mainly to advise officers that they could expect a long wait if they brought someone in to be jailed.
Wilson said it let officers know that it might be better for them to simply write a ticket for more minor offenses. He said anyone arrested for a serious crime would still be jailed.
Each new inmate is searched upon booking. With that many people waiting to be booked, Wilson said they had to escort people to the bathroom in groups Saturday, which posed a potential safety issue. He said it's not uncommon for people that serve their sentences on weekends to try to smuggle contraband into the jail, and those people often use the need to go to the bathroom as a ruse to get rid of contraband before they are searched.
Overcrowding has been an issue at the jail in the past. While not cited as the reason new inmates were not being accepted, the jail did report a total inmate population of 1,732 as of 10:05 a.m. on Saturday. That's 18 over the listed capacity of 1,714.
Tulsa County officials are pushing to ease the overcrowding issue. They announced plans earlier this week to put a 0.067 percent sales tax on an April 1,2014 ballot. The money would be used to add pods to the jail and to fund construction of a new Juvenile Justice Center building.
Overcrowding has also prompted the Tulsa County jail to take legal action against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The jail filed suit last July against the DOC. The suit claims that the DOC's failure to quickly take inmates that are its responsibility is a major factor in the jail's overcrowding problems.