The Norman Transcript

Crime/Courts

May 31, 2012

State can’t take inmates fast enough; new jail filling up too quickly

NORMAN — The new jail, which was constructed to combat overcrowding in the old Cleveland County Jail, is now suffering from the same problem.

Jail and county officials discussed the issue at the Wednesday morning meeting of the Cleveland County Justice Authority.

Chief of detention Carrie Davis said the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center was ready, as of Friday, to send 67 of its inmates to state prisons, but it can’t — at least not quickly.

Jail officials say it will take them about 11 months, at the current rate, to transport all of these sentenced inmates to the Department of Corrections.

The jail can deliver up to six inmates to the Department of Corrections each month, and that’s only when the department says it’s ready to take them.

“We’re getting anywhere from 10 to 15 (new inmates) per month,” Davis said after the meeting. “The odds are not in our favor.

“They’re not putting two and two together to realize that we don’t have all of our pods open,” she said of state officials.

The old jail was on the department’s emergency list, which allowed for more frequent transfers of sentenced inmates to prisons, but the new jail isn’t so fortunate.

She said her facility is filling up, and it likely won’t have the funding to open its third pod for at least another year.

The Cleveland County Budget Board cut the jail’s funding for Fiscal Year ’12-’13 by 22.2 percent — to $3.11 million from $4 million for the previous year.

The budget has yet to be finalized by the Excise Board, so Davis said there is still the possibility that the budget could be amended, though she said she doesn’t expect to see the debut of the final pod in the near future.

Davis said the overcrowding isn’t just a result of limited space and slower prison transfers.

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