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Wagoner County Jail gets overcrowding warning

WAGONER, Okla. (AP) -- The state Fire Marshal's Office could take legal action to remove inmates from the Wagoner County Jail if overcrowding isn't addressed by Thursday, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The state Fire Marshal's Office ordered Sheriff Rudy Briggs on Monday to find a solution to overcrowding. The 32-bed lockup has averaged 49 prisoners a day since Jan. 1.

"We always try to keep the numbers down, but I'm not going tos top the agencies in our county from arresting people," Briggs said. "My plan is that I'm not going to do anything."

Shannon Rowland, spokeswoman for the Fire Marshal's Office, said agents plan to return to the jail on Thursday. If the population has not been reduced, "we will proceed with a legal order to remove some of the inmates," she said.

Threats prompted by overcrowding are not new. The most recent came from the state Department of Health in 1998 when inspectors reported serious overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

No action was taken, although a jail inspector from that agency issued a scathing report on the jail as recently as last week.

Voters in October approved a sales tax to build a new 80-bed jail, but construction will take more than a year.

Briggs said he doesn't have any answers for the immediate concerns of the fire marshal agent who showed up Monday.

"I told him to do what he's got to do," Briggs said.
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