New Report Details Problems Facing The Nowata County Jail
NOWATA COUNTY, Oklahoma - Nowata County is looking for ways to fix its problem-plagued jail. On Monday, county commissioners learned details of a 69-page report about safety and security concerns.
This comes just days after a carbon monoxide leak forced inmates to evacuate. An auditor told Nowata County Commissioners today the county jail isn't safe, sanitary or secure. In this report she suggests either building a new jail, making repairs to the existing one, or contracting with other counties to house inmates.
Gaping holes in walls, exposed vents and wires, a poorly secured dispatch area, toilets and sinks that don't work and black mold. These are just some issues mentioned by Michelle Robinette in her report on the Nowata County Jail.
Nowata County Commissioner Troy Friddle says some of the issues could be improved by how the sheriff manages the jail. Robinette argues there are major and costly security concerns beyond how the sheriff runs the jail that needs to be addressed.
"Everybody sees your view but where do we get the money to do that?" said Nowata County Commissioner Troy Friddle.
Nowata County Sheriff Terry Barnett also pointed out the problems could cost taxpayers even more than the cost of repairs.
"You just had an incident occur Thursday evening that is huge and I don't think yet you comprehend the liability issues," said Nowata County Sheriff Terry Barnett.
"What was the incident?” said Friddle.
That incident was the CO leak. While some maintenance work has already started, Commissioner Doug Sonenberg says finding money to fix the problems is an ongoing concern.
"I think everybody wants something done and knows we need to do something- we are just not sure what to do yet," said Nowata County Commissioner Doug Sonenberg.
Commissioner Burke LaRue worries what will happen if the community takes too long to act.
“There are new statutes and laws that we have to follow and it is time to step up and man up and figure out how we are going to tackle this the best we can," said Nowata County Commissioner Burke LaRue.