New Sheriff Says Nowata County Jail Is A Danger To Inmates
NOWATA COUNTY, Oklahoma - The new Nowata County Sheriff Terry Barnett says the jail is in bad shape and is a danger to inmates and employees.
"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," said Undersheriff Mark Kirschner.
Undersheriff Mark Kirschner says the women's bathroom at the Nowata County Jail hasn't had a working sink for more than a month. In order for people living in the pods to do basic things like wash their hands-they have to use the shower.
"I can't imagine as a female trying to stay hygienic and do things you need to do under these conditions. It's appalling to me much less somebody that actually has to stay here," said Undersheriff Kirschner.
The condition of the bathrooms in another section make a whole pod unusable. Exposed cables hang in the middle of hallways and rooms where inmates live.
"They could use it to hang themselves. They could use it to strangle somebody else," said Undersheriff Mark Kirschner.
Jail employees say inmates could use exposed metal air conditioning vents as weapons. If there's a fire, the jail does not have a sprinkler system.
"It's just a constant danger for them for us for anyone who comes in or out of this facility," said Undersheriff Mark Kirschner.
Moisture is causing mold to grow - most noticeably on the kitchen ceiling.
“There may be innocent people on here--even the people that are convicted or guilty they don't deserve to live like this,” said Undersheriff Mark Kirschner.
Jail employees say there's not enough money to fix all the problems in the building that's more than a century old.
"It truly does make things difficult in the modern world when you're literally working in a place that's a trip back in time," said Nowata Jail Administrator Lauren BigEagle.