April 22, 2014
The Jackson County Sheriff is meeting with State legislators at the Capitol, with other Sheriffs state-wide, regarding House Bill 2804. The bill will greatly reduce the occupancy of county jails used to house state inmates awaiting transfer to a Department of Corrections facility. According to Jackson County Sheriff, Roger LeVick, such a reform will negatively impact county finances as well as residents safety and tax dollars.
LeVick will meet with Senator Mike Schulz and House Representative Charles Ortega to express concerns on the reform.
“I imagine it will be pretty crowded,” Sheriff LeVick said in an interview on Monday.
If the bill is made into law, Sheriff LeVick expects inmates to be transferred out of the county jail within seven days of sentencing to adjust for the early release non-violent of D.O.C. inmates. The pending bill says the State Pardon and Parole Board will authorize early release of non-violent inmates held by the D.O.C., 6 months of their scheduled release date, which would occur when D.O.C. facilities are full and must contract with county facilities for beds.
Under the current D.O.C. system, LeVick said that he has seen district judges sentence an offender to a correctional facility for 5 years, only to be released in a few months, arrested again, and back in the system.
“Ninty percent that are released, come back,” LeVick said.
Sheriff LeVick commented that this kind of reform will be more costly to the State since Jackson County is one of the least expensive holding facilities in Oklahoma. To house an inmate under contract with the Jackson County Jail, it costs the State $27 per day. If housed at a D.O.C. facility, it costs the State $35 per day.
“This makes no economic sense when they claim it costs ‘x’ amount of dollars and we’re holding them for less,” Sheriff LeVick said.
Additionally, LeVick said that County finances would also be affected, stating that the County Jail needs to have nearly 40 inmates regularly waiting to go to the D.O.C. for their finances to “remain in the black.”