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Local Inmates Create Funding Issue For Grady County Jail

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GRADY COUNTY, Oklahoma -

Local arrests are tying up beds for federal prisoners in Chickasha and now jail administrators are concerned it will hurt their bottom line.

A bulk of income for the Grady County Jail comes from the federal government. According to a state lawmaker, it's a statewide problem.

Rep. Scott Biggs is pushing a bill that he believes will help get the issue resolved. The administrator of the Grady County Jail says state prisoners are keeping their beds full, leaving them in a financial crunch.

"DOC is not pulling them out, and our population has grown with those inmates," said Grady County Jail administrator, Shane Wyatt.

It boils down to a "funding issue" for the Grady County Jail. The jail meets its financial obligations by "renting" its beds out to federal inmates.

"Our bond payments, our payroll for our employees, insurance payments, utilities, to be able to pay those to keep the doors open," said Wyatt.

But, Wyatt says state inmates are filling up more of his beds than federal ones, causing a loss of more than $200,000.

"We're talking about within a year, we're going from 30 inmates up to almost 80 inmates, housing them here, and that's taking up those beds," said Wyatt.

"It's abuse by a large organization, state organization, DOC, because they can realize the savings," said Grady County Justice consultant, Truman Bidelspach.

Bidelspach says state law allows DOC to pay county jails around $13 less per inmate than the federal government pays.

"They anticipate $40 a day to house these inmates," said Bidelspach.

The Grady County Jail has a half million dollar per month operational budget. Administrators say to meet that they must rent out as many as 350 beds to federal prisoners. Bidelspach says this money is crucial right now to pay off a bond, but agrees a better financial plan should be made.

"We have to keep an income stream moving, alright," said Bidelspach. "We can't depend on federal contracts forever."

Rep. Biggs bill, HB 2804, allows county jails to negotiate a daily rate to house state prisoners. It passed through the Full House 79 to 2. It now heads to the Senate. 

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