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Stephens Co. Jail Still Overcrowded

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STEPHENS CO. Okla_ The Stephens County Jail is experiencing yet another burst of overcrowding. With a capacity of 164, the jail is starting to see inmate lists of 200 or more.

Now, officials are looking towards some short-term solutions in order to keep the jail running efficiently with the space they have. McKinney said his deputies are outnumbered by inmates forty to one. While that number can fluctuate from day to day, there's no doubt the numbers aren't in their favor. McKinney said since the problem won't likely go away, he's left searching for solutions that will help the county, his employees, and the inmates themselves.

"The old saying is, ‘You never build big enough'. Well, we're there," McKinney said.

The jail sits with one of its highest populations to date, and it's a mark of a job well done for agencies all across the county.

"We have a few more that are being held for murder," McKinney said. "We have some serious assault cases, serious crimes, domestic violence," McKinney said.

The jail doesn't just cover all crimes of Stephens County, though. It also covers all walks of life that commit those crimes within its parameters, including minors being tried as adults.

"With that being said, they're juveniles still," McKinney said. "They're under the age of 18, so they cannot be put into a general population pod or cell with people older than they are."

Team that isolation up with separating males from females, and space is getting a little cramped. So, Sheriff McKinney wants to use resources at his disposal that haven't been tapped.

"We have two areas that are the old recreational rooms," McKinney said. "So, those rooms previously built for that particular function aren't being used."

That space would give the jail at least twelve more beds. A small step for a big problem, but McKinney said it's a start.

"It's a shame we have that many people incarcerated now for crimes, but like I said, the dangerous criminals we want to be there," McKinney said. "That's our job. That's what I'm elected to do, and that's what we're going to do."

Sheriff McKinney said he's not the only one dealing with high inmate numbers.

He said the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is also extremely overcrowded, forcing some to remain in county jails, until the state can make room for them in theirs. The plan to turn the recreational rooms into areas to house more inmates has been approved by inspectors. The sheriff's office is now working on proposals that will outline the costs for the adjustments. Once completed, it will be presented to county commissioners.

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