Tulsa County Officials Seeking Uniform Compensation Formula

Saturday, October 14th 2006, 4:53 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ County officials faced with housing inmates awaiting transfer to state prisons are trying to create a uniform rate that would adequately compensate county jails.

Presently, each county uses its own calculation to come up with a daily cost to hold a state inmate.

``We can't lobby the state without a legitimate formula to say this is what we pay, this is what we need to continue to have DOC prisoners,'' Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller said.

Sheriff's departments across the state have long been pressing the Legislature to pay them for holding DOC inmates in their jail, but haven't ever done so with a single voice or a per-inmate, per-day cost based on a uniform formula.

Miller and fellow authority member Stan Sallee, who were appointed by Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority Chairman Wilbert Collins to explore the issue, are looking to change that.

Last month, the authority asked Tulsa County Fiscal Officer Jim Smith to consult with the sheriff's office and the Oklahoma County jail's fiscal officer to create a standard formula that all 77 counties can use.

There are more people in prison or slated for incarceration than the state has room to house. Corrections officials have turned to county jails to ease the problem.

Some counties have acknowledged making money off the DOC inmates, while others claim to be losing money.

Miller said she wants to have the necessary information to not only demand appropriate compensation for the counties, but to support the Criminal Justice Authority's contention that the DOC needs more funding and more prison beds.

In Tulsa County, the Criminal Justice Authority in fiscal year 2005-06 received $24 per day per state inmate. The cost per day to hold those inmates, according to Smith, was $33.79.

Based on an average daily DOC inmate population of 134, the cost _ or ``double taxation,'' as some have called it _ to the county was $480,326, Smith said.

Sheriff Stanley Glanz said it will cost more than $33.79 per day per inmate to house DOC prisoners.

``If they want to solve the problem, they should pay us the $48 they're paying the private prisons,'' Glanz said.

The DOC inmate population at the Tulsa jail has consistently pushed the total inmate population well over 1,175 and strained the sheriff's budget.