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State orders closure of LeFlore County Jail


POTEAU, Okla. (AP) _ Citing several deficiencies, including inmates being hidden during inspections, the state has ordered the closure of the LeFlore County.

``It's pretty serious. It's a danger to the health of the inmates and employees,'' said state Fire Marshal spokesman Richard Cooper.

Cooper said the fire marshal's office will issue a written order closing the jail next week.

Among the reasons were that an inspector was once left to supervise more than 50 inmates while the sole jailer took an inmate to court and that inmates were hidden during an inspection.

``They moved them to the other room, then moved them back when the agent finished his counting,'' Cooper said. ``They were shuffling. They think they can get away with it, too.

``But they got caught on this one.''

District Attorney Rob Wallace said LeFlore County will appeal the closing of the lockup, which was built in 1926, and ask that it remain open during the appeal.

Wallace said the county plans to build a new jail, but hasn't had time to create the design and get it on the ballot.

He said inmate populations have decreased somewhat and improvements have been made.

But Cooper said it hasn't been enough.

``We just want them to follow the law. They've had over a year to do this and they have not done it,'' Cooper said. ``They just constantly put us off, so it has come to this.''

A fire marshal's report said the jail has failed to install a fire alarm system and maintain a jail occupancy of 50 inmates or less.

In addition, the state Health Department's jail inspector said LeFlore County is understaffed, under-trained and overcrowded.

Jailers are required to have 24 hours of training on jail standards in their first year and 12 hours in their second year.

``That has not been done in two years,'' said Don Garrison, the jail inspector supervisor.
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