By Mick Hinton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The cheapest bid is not always the best one, Cleveland County commissioners decided Monday when they contracted with a new vendor to provide phone services to jailed inmates.
Housing nearly 500 inmates per day, commissioners accepted a bid that will provide less revenues to the county, but overall services will be enhanced, Undersheriff Rhett Burnett said Monday.
“If inmates have good food, good commissary and can make phone calls to loved ones, they are easier to manage,” he said.
Four of the bidders that sought the phone contract would have provided a higher percentage of commission to the county, which will receive 67 percent of the fee charged inmates or their families.
However, a key benefit of the new contract is that the winning vendor will deal directly with inmates to provide a service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This will lessen the load on the current sheriff’s staff.
Other contractors did not offer that benefit, Burnett said.
The sheriff’s office will continue to be able to monitor calls placed in the system.
Calls between inmates and their attorneys will not result in a fee.