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January 26, 2013

More inmates means more jobs open

County jail housing close to 400 inmates

NORMAN — Supply and demand are the building blocks of any economy. As Cleveland County climbs its way out of a recession, the supply is a jail full of inmates and the demand is for detention officers and dispatchers.

“We have jobs available,” Undersheriff Rhett Burnett said. “In an economy where some people don’t have jobs, this is a good job with benefits.”

The new F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center operated by the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office has space, but each jail pod that is opened requires more jail staffing.

“We’ve been having to man all three of those pods with the employees we had for two pods,” Burnett said. “It’s been a little difficult, but we’ve been able to make it work.”

Though the sheriff’s office has recently added 15 employees, others were lost when they moved to other jobs.

The jail has been housing close to 400 prisoners each week. On Tuesday, Burnett said the head count was at 390, with the previous week at 399. Close to 25 percent of those are Oklahoma Department of Corrections prisoners, most of whom have received judgment and sentencing, making the state financially responsible for them. Because appropriate DOC placements are limited, the state reimburses the county for a portion of their care.

“The DOC money goes back into the jail to feed and clothe them,” Burnett said.

Meanwhile, the county’s jail sales tax money will fund the new staff positions.

Burnett said the budget board also gave additional funding for hires.

Interested applicants must be at least 19 years old and be United States citizens. Annual salary begins at $31,000 for detention officers and $31,500 for dispatchers. Insurance and benefits are provided.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED as well as a valid driver’s license and insurable driving record.

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