Cash Crisis: 2 Oklahoma Counties Consider Sharing A New Jail
MIAMI, Oklahoma - The Ottawa County Jail is in desperate need of repairs that the sheriff said could end up costing millions. Sheriff Jeremy Floyd said he is talking with the Delaware County Sheriff about possibly building a new jail that the two counties would share.
Ottawa County inmates have not been in the Ottawa County Jail for about one month, after an electrical fire in October prompted them to be relocated. The number changes every day, but on Friday there were 47 Ottawa County inmates in the Tulsa County Jail and 13 in the Craig County Jail in Vinita.
Ottawa County is spending about $4,000 a day to keep the inmates in other counties.
"It's been kind of a nightmare for us at the sheriff's office,” Floyd said.
Floyd said all the electrical work is complete after last month’s fire. But he said they still need a new roof, because their current one leaks when it rains.
Before the inmates move back in, Floyd said the fire sprinkler system needs repairs, which could cost $35,000.
"I want to know in my heart that the fire suppression, the fire alarms, smoke alarms - all that's up to par and working properly like it should,” Floyd said.
Aside from the physical and financial problems, deputies are making the three-hour round trip to Tulsa at least twice a day, to pick up inmates for court appearances. They're making trips to and from Vinita, too.
"That takes off a lot of the deputies that need to be in the field or the administration part of doing transports as well, so it's been a burden,” Floyd said.
Floyd said he's talking about a solution with the Delaware County Sheriff.
"He's overcrowded. I need a new facility. What do you do?” Floyd said.
He said they're only in the discussion phase, but they are considering what it would look like to build a new jail and share it.
"We share the same judicial district as Delaware, so why not? Probably build it somewhere on the county line somewhere, and then both of our counties would share that responsibility to maintain and operate that facility,” he said.
Floyd said he hopes to get enough things fixed to move inmates back in the Ottawa County Jail by Thanksgiving.