After Sunday's riot, Sheriff's Office works to transport DOC inmates immediately

By: Steven Powell Email
By: Steven Powell Email

BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- The day after a dangerous riot broke out in the county jail, the Sheriff's office says they're in need of drastic changes.

Sheriff Ken Golden said riot results from overcrowding - specifically from Department of Corrections inmates. He said it's been months since DOC picked up any of their inmates from the Bryan County jail.

Late Sunday night, multiple SRT teams poured out of the jail, after they were called in to put down a riot.

"The inmates in cell 73, which are mostly DOC inmates, had rioted and set fire to a garbage can back there," Golden said.

He said they were able to put out the fire and calm the inmates down without injuries. But he says it could have been worse since the 43 inmates involved were housed in open-bay cells - and only five officers were on duty.

"There's no way to lock them down individually, so they're moving around all the time," he said.

Golden said they're overcapacity by 27 inmates - 63 DOC inmates are being held in the jail.

"We've gotta find a way to try to get them out of here. We've had trips organized to take them up there, but they've been cancelled," he said.

State Senator Josh Brecheen said that's because DOC institutions are all at full capacity themselves.

"A way to solve it is for us to look at some rehab programs like drug court, not to be soft on crime but smart on crime," he said.

Golden said in addition to overcrowding, commissioners recently cut the number of jailers to 25.

"That's still not enough. Tonight could have been a disaster," he said.

But Commissioner Monty Montgomery disagrees that it's a staffing issue.

"The safety concern that I would have is how did the inmates get the whatever it took to start the fire into the cell," he said.

Golden said they're looking into how the fire started. But regardless of contraband, he said the drastic mismatch of guards to inmates can cause any situation to get dangerously out of hand.

"One of them getting hurt back there would be devastating."

Golden said he's working to transport 20 to 30 DOC inmates to state facilities in the next two weeks.

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