Transcript Staff Writer

Cleveland County officials are still looking at expanding the Cleveland County Detention Center.

"We've not lost sight of the need," County Commissioner Chairman Bill Graves said. "We are trying to get to the point where we know we can build, what the cost will be and where we will get the money to do it."

A jail site selection committee has met and are still meeting to find suitable places to build. Graves said that several places are being considered, some would work, others wouldn't. The sites recommended have not been announced outside of executive session.

Commissioners and Sheriff DeWayne Beggs both know that wherever they decide to build, some people will be unhappy but Cleveland County has needed more jail space for over four years, Beggs said.

The existing jail was originally designed to hold 138 prisoners and the Oklahoma State Department of Health has put a limit of 177 prisoners. The center has averaged 200 or more prisoners almost every week since Christmas.

Beggs said the best way to go would be an addition of some sort to eliminate transportation. Not only is it costly, at least two deputies have to escort the prisoners, but there is more danger. That is when the "real bad guys look for an opportunity to escape," said Beggs.

"It would really help if everybody decided to be good citizens and not have to be put in jail," Graves said. "But I don't expect that to change."

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