Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 16, 2014

Prison shuffle to have a price

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — One Garvin County official says there will be a price to pay with the recent transfer of Oklahoma Department of Corrections inmates being held in county jails like the one here.

In a move to save money DOC inmates are being taken out of county facilities like the Garvin County jail and moved to state prisons.

A total of nine state inmates were transferred late last week from the county jail in Pauls Valley to the custody of DOC.

Sheriff Larry Rhodes knows this policy, if it remains in place, will ultimately cost the county in the form of the supplemental revenue it receives by holding DOC prisoners in the county jail.

“Last week we were notified by DOC that they were going to take all their sentenced inmates,” Rhodes said, adding it was an unexpected thing.

“This is something that’s going on statewide,” he said. “It’s a move the new DOC director is making with all jails across the state.”

The move is to pull all state prisoners out of the county jails where they were being held. The idea is to save money as the state has been reimbursing county jails $27 a day for each of the state inmates.

Rhodes is quick to add the actual cost of housing an inmate is closer to $33 per day.

The downside is the county jails’ loss of those reimbursed funds.

“What’s so significant now is we can’t rely on the daily rate they pay for holding DOC inmates,” he said.

“We have come to count on that money.”

For many years the reimbursement from DOC for holding state inmates sentenced to prison has been used to operate the county jail.

The inmates transferred out of the Garvin County jail were Tommy Walls, 28, Pauls Valley; Jeremy Burk, 41, Sulphur; Jonathon Smith, 24, Pauls Valley; Garet White, 25, Maysville; Tygue Stephens, 29, Elmore City; Jonathan “Rambo” Brown, 27, Lindsay; Don Pate, 54, Maysville; Dustin “Duck” Popejoy, 36, Pauls Valley; and Brandon Looney, 25, Pauls Valley.

Stephens and Smith had recently been sentenced for their part in the 2010 home invasions involving three other persons who are already serving prison time.

A Utah arrest warrant remained on Garet White stemming from charges filed against him in that state while he was wanted in Garvin County.

On the positive side, Rhodes said it does free up some of the beds in the jail.

The sheriff does find it interesting how the DOC has found the space for these inmates when it was not too long ago the announcement came the available beds just weren’t there.

“I find that odd,” Rhodes said. “My concern is the DOC is taking people out of prison on the back end to make room for these new inmates.

“I’m curious how that will be working out.”