Cleveland County Jail Short of Resources

Friday, March 20th 2009, 6:15 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- The Cleveland County Jail has been plagued with overcrowding issues for several years, and even though the long-term solution is coming, there are still problems in the short run that can't be ignored.

The jail can legally hold 177 prisoners, but the actual count recently has been far above that.

The number of prisoners has increased by six to 10 percent over last year, partly due to the struggling economy.

"People that have court costs and fines to pay aren't being able to pay them and as a result, they get warrants issued for them," said Cleveland County Undersheriff Rhett Burnett.

Cleveland County voters have approved a new 542 bed jail, but it won't be ready for another two and a half years, so an interim approach to overcrowding is necessary.

The Sheriff would like to convert a training room to a dormitory-like setting to house at least 20 prisoners.

Those extra beds may be enough to satisfy the jail inspector until the new jail finally opens its doors.

Cleveland County already sent about 20 of its inmates to Pottawatomie County, to be housed in the jail there.