Tulsa County Sheriff Says Creating City Jail A Bad Idea

Tuesday, August 15th 2017, 8:25 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa is considering a $500,000 plan to create a city jail and temporarily house inmates in another county instead of the Tulsa County Jail.

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado held a news conference Tuesday and called the city's idea financially irresponsible and said it would be inefficient for the residents of Tulsa.

If the council approves these two things, starting at midnight Wednesday, all municipal prisoners will be taken to the Okmulgee County Jail.

8/14/2017 Related Story: City Of Tulsa Exploring Possibility Of New Jail

This would happen while the city would renovate an existing lock-up facility currently inside one of the police courts buildings.

The plan would be to add beds, showers, kitchen facilities and other permanent improvements to meet standards required.

"I like the idea of the city taking more responsibility and accountability over the prisoners we're responsible for,” said city council member Anna America. 

But before that would open, they will vote on a contract agreement with Okmulgee County to send the city's inmates there for the time being.

"Probably be at a significant cost savings compared to what the county, Tulsa County has proposed for our citizens,” America added. 

The cost to house an inmate in Okmulgee County would be $48 per person, per day. The Tulsa County commission previously voted to increase its fee for the city to $69 per inmate, per day.

"There's probably better ways to deal with those and more cost-effective ways,” said America.

But Sheriff Regalado doesn't agree.

"From a financial standpoint, from a public safety standpoint, and from an efficiency stand point,” he stated.  

He says the duplication of services "is fiscally irresponsible." 

Regadao worries the county would lose inmate holding space it uses and force them to transport about 400 inmates per day. It's part of a deal that allows the city to use space at the jail to house records and warrants.

"I certainly hope that this property swap will continue,” he said.

Aside from cost savings, America says the city wanted full access and transparency to see how the county is spending the city's money.  

"The county, unfortunately, didn't see, couldn't see to agree to that,” she said.

Something the sheriff denies, even though he's not a part of the negotiations.

"The city can come in, again, check our books, see where their money is going, ask for anything and we will provide it,” he said.

The city council will consider both the Okmulgee County contract and transferring funds to renovate its own jail Wednesday.

If the Okmulgee County contract is approved, inmates would head there starting Wednesday night at midnight.