County jails end inmate dispute with Oklahoma - - Texoma news, weather and sports

County jails end inmate dispute with Oklahoma

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An inmate transportation van in Bryan County. (KTEN) An inmate transportation van in Bryan County. (KTEN)

DURANT, Okla. -- Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed legislation that will restore funds to county jails across the state.

It all comes down to housing state prisoners in local lockups.

A law that had been on the books for three years actually took money away from county jails and taxpayers. It let the state Department of Corrections withhold payments from county jails if sentencing documents were not received within five days of the court's decision.

That forced counties to spend money on inmates under the jurisdiction of the DOC.

Sheriffs lobbied to get that law revoked last year, but it was vetoed by former Gov. Mary Fallin.

"You take the five-day rule, it could build up at a minimum of $135 per person that we would be losing from the time the person was sentenced to prison to the five-day rule the way it was in effect," Bryan County Sheriff Johnny Christian said.

The Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association said 29 counties lost more than $1.2 million in the first year of the law.

"When it comes to jails, we have to pinch every penny, watch every penny," Christian said. "Every penny matters, and that's the taxpayers' dollars, and so we want to make sure it's spent wisely and that the counties are taken care of appropriately as they should be."

The state's 77 sheriff departments worked with legislature and the new governor to get the original law overturned.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter ruled that the DOC was violating the Oklahoma Constitution.

On Tuesday, Gov. Stitt signed Senate Bill 244 into law, repealing the previous legislation.

Now money, within the counties will be spent accordingly.

"This way, we are going to get more funding paid through the DOC so we can house more to help out DOC for overflow," jail administrator Kristy Toombs explained.

The new law goes into effect at the end of the month.

Meanwhile the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association said Oklahoma County Commissioners are suing the DOC to recover money lost since the original five-day rule was established.

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