The state Corrections Department pays counties nearly $20 million each year to house inmates awaiting transfer to state-run prisons.
The problem, some say, is that prisoners – those already sentenced to terms in Oklahoma prisons – are languishing for months in county jails before transferring out.
Sheriffs and jail administrators say they don’t see a dime until after the inmate is in state custody, which is allowed because of state law. Many also say the daily fee paid to them by the Corrections Department isn’t enough to house prisoners, sometimes for months at a time.
Jerry Massie, a Corrections Department spokesman, says counties are paid $27 per day to house inmates awaiting transfer to state prisons, in accordance with state law. There are about 1,560 such inmates in county jails across Oklahoma, he said.