New Public Safety Law Raises Questions For Tulsa County Jailers

Tuesday, October 30th 2012, 10:53 pm

By: News On 6

A new law giving inmates the option of getting a mental health screening before going to prison is causing some confusion.

The Tulsa County jail currently has 1,714 inmates, which is right at maximum capacity.

"Each time we get a delay, it adds population to the county jail," said Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

Sheriff Glanz said he is worried House Bill 3052 will add to the jail's crowding problem.

The law, which goes into effect on Thursday, lists a number of new requirements.

5/10/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma Governor Signs Statewide Public Safety Plan Into Law

One of those requirements is that all inmates can ask for a mental health exam before being sentenced to prison.

Glanz likes this idea, but his issue is with who is actually performing the exams.

"What I think the answer is, is to let us use in-house people to do this evaluation, people that are already here, they're on site, they're professionals, have a psychiatrist on staff and they could do this very easily in a timely manner," Glanz said.

Speaker Kris Steele co-authored the bill and worked closely with sheriffs across the state, including Glanz.

"It's up to the Department of Mental Health to determine who will be giving the assessments," Steele said.

The Tulsa County jail moves between 50 and 100 prisoners to Oklahoma's prisons each week.

Glanz is worried outsourcing the mental exams will delay this process and back up the jail's population.

"I have every confidence in the world to believe that they will be administered in a timely fashion," Steele said. "There's nothing in this bill that's going to add to the current county jail inmate population."

Steele said this law will not add any additional burden on taxpayers.

The bill will also require every prisoner to receive at least nine months of supervision after they're released from jail.

Read House Bill 3052 in its entirety.


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