There is a new Tulsa County jail operator in town and it's the sheriff


Friday, March 18th 2005, 6:15 am
By: News On 6


After six years of private operation by the Corrections Corporation of America, control of the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center has been given back Friday morning to the Tulsa County Sheriff.

News on 6 Steve Berg says CCA will keep operating here for about 6 months, while they make the transition and then the sheriff gets the keys.

It was always a somewhat ironic situation, that the Tulsa Sheriff's Office helped design the Moss Center, but never got to run it.

Tulsa County Sheriff’s office chief deputy Brian Edwards: "We're pleased today that we're going to have the opportunity to run it again. We designed the facility so we're excited to have the chance to operate it."

The editorial cartoons that the sheriff keeps on the walls are a reminder of the sometimes bitter wrangling that went on 8 years ago, when the jail was privatized.

“Quite frankly, it was a really hard decision to make." Tulsa County Commissioner Bob Dick says he was glad the vote Friday by the Criminal Justice Authority went smoothly. There have been issues with CCA's performance from time to time, mistakes with releases and complaints about the booking process, but he says that wasn't a factor. "It came down to dollars and sense. The costs of running the jail are now exceeding the tax revenues that are now earmarked for the jail."

Brian Edwards: "The message that I took from the decision to privatize was purely a budget issue and I believe that is what has brought us back to this point today."

The sheriff's office bid was much closer to CCA's bid this time around, than it was the last time, when CCA underbid them by some $2-million. Among other things, the sheriff has ideas on how to streamline the booking process and create a pay to stay police for inmates, all to help reduce costs.

And some also like that an elected official is accountable for jail performance. Bob Dick: "I think unless you can show me a distinct advantage, then the Sheriff ought to operate the jail."

CCA officials said Friday, they were disappointed to lose the jail contract. The county meanwhile has pledged to hire as many CCA workers as possible.