Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 22, 2014

Capitol trek is for county jails

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Tuesday, April 22 is the day for county law enforcement officials, including a few from Garvin County, to let lawmakers know what they think about a recent shift in policy taking state prisoners out of their county jails.

Making the trek up to the state Capitol are county Sheriff Larry Rhodes, along with his undersheriff, Jim Mullett, and jail administrator, Josh White.

The trio will join plenty of others who are following a bill that if passed would allow each county jail to negotiate its own rate with state Department of Corrections (DOC) for those times state inmates are kept in the county facilities.

“We’re attending with other sheriffs across the state the House committee hearings on a bill about this DOC issue,” Rhodes said on Monday.

“My main concern is the DOC’s new director is pulling all the (state) inmates out of county jails,” he said.

"It not only effects the sheriff’s office but the county.

“We’ll be part of a larger group from across the state meeting with legislators.”

Rhodes is referring to the recent move to have all DOC inmates transferred out of the county jails and into state prisons.

According to the sheriff, the move could cost the Garvin County office he oversees in the six-figure range each year.

“Pulling these inmates will have a big financial impact not only on Garvin County but many counties across the state,” Rhodes said.

“It would cost us around $140,000 a year in revenue we have to make up somewhere else,” he said. “I don’t know if we would have the ability to make up that revenue. We count on that money to operate.

“We want to try to meet state legislators and let them know our side of the issue.

“We want legislators to know what a negative impact this will have on counties.”

The sheriff’s main concern is the proposed legislation allowing county jails to negotiate the daily rate for holding state prisoners.

Rhodes said the current rate is $27 per day for each DOC inmate held at a county jail.

He insists the actual costs of holding that prisoner is in reality about $33 per day.

“I would like to see that increased or at least we have the ability to negotiate an increase.”

That’s important because Garvin County’s sheriff says there will always be a need for state prisoners to be housed in county facilities, especially the time between their sentencings and transfers to a state prison.

“All the transfers were happening in a short amount of time,” Rhodes said.

“I don’t question him (the DOC director). I would like to take a look at his plan to make the room for all these inmates.”