The Norman Transcript

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April 30, 2013

449 prisoners inside county jail

NORMAN — The number of inmates in the Cleveland County jail reached an all-time high Monday, with the jail still remaining understaffed.

Cleveland County Undersheriff Rhett Burnett said the count at 8 a.m. Monday was 449 inmates.

One hundred and 20 of those need to be transported to the Department of Corrections, and 114 of the inmates currently have judgment and sentencing on file, Burnett said. The DOC is scheduled to take around 10 to 15 inmates per month.

While the jail remains understaffed, the sheriff’s department has been going through applications to hire 12 more people to reach a completed staff of detention officers.

“We’re handling it OK, but we don’t have our full compliment,” he said. “We’re trying to get those final 12 hired.”

Burnett said they have received hundreds of applications, but the hiring process takes longer than a regular job would. Since it is a detention center and a law enforcement-type job, personal history statements have to be taken and initial background checks, several interviews and a final background check must be done. Polygraphs and drug tests also are taken, he said.

“We’re trying to find the right people to work in there,” Burnett said. “We don’t want to get in too big of a hurry.”

The undersheriff said a lot of people staffing the jail go to other law enforcement jobs internally and externally. Sometimes those people are going out into the field or working in transport or they’re moving to other jobs that may be better paying, he said.

“I encourage anyone interested to apply. It’s a good job with good benefits,” Burnett said.

As for the number of inmates they are handling, he said he expects that number to come down.

“The courts and judges do their best to help us. Everybody is working together as a team,” he said.

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