Bryan County wins lawsuit against DOC

By: Steven Powell Email
By: Steven Powell Email

BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- The County received a favorable ruling Friday in a state court case over how much the Department of Corrections reimburses the jail for housing DOC inmates.

But it's still unclear exactly how this will affect the jail going forward.

County Commissioner Jay Perry said they can't legally use county tax dollars to pay for a state office.But he argues DOC is requiring them to do just that.

"That state office, and I don't care what that excuse is, is requiring us to support them. And that's unconstitutional," he said.

That argument is the center of a lawsuit asking DOC for more money for each state inmate the county jail houses.

"The problem is $27 is not adequate. It does not cover the costs," Perry said.

On Friday a state court ruling agreed with the county.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction. But I wish we were done," he said.

The DOC's own website estimates it costs $40 a day to house an inmate in a community prison. DOC wouldn't comment on the case since it's ongoing. But a spokesman says he anticipates they'll appeal the decision.

"And then you'll have the issue of trying to determine of what is the actual cost. And you can bet on an argument at every turn," Perry said.

But Sheriff Ken Golden said even if the county wins the appeal, commissioners still have control of the DOC cash accounts.

"And that makes it a little hard for us," he said.

He's worried commissioners will lock the accounts to accumulate funding until the next fiscal year, he said. He fears commissioners would then use that money for the next fiscal year's jail budget rather than today's needs.

"If they end up cutting the budget from excise taxes and using that, then that's really not helping, that's just saving county money and using this money," he said.

But the sheriff and commissioners agree - right now they're losing money.

"Every day, for every prisoner, we're going in the hole," Perry said. "Every day."

Perry said he anticipates this case going all the way to the State Supreme Court.

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