Department of Corrections terminates contract with Tillman Count - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Department of Corrections terminates contract with Tillman County

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

TILLMAN COUNTY, OK (KSWO) -The Tillman County Sheriff spent Tuesday at the state capital voicing his concern after the Department of Corrections terminated its contract with the Tillman County Jail.

This means the Tillman County Jail could soon close due to lack of financial support from the DOC. This all stems from Oklahoma's budget shortfall and the state's request for the DOC to cut three million dollars from its budget. The DOC relocated all 60 Tillman county inmates to private jails Monday morning.

Tillman County currently has enough funds to operate the jail until April 30th, but since the inmates were moved, the $57,000 dollars coming in monthly from the DOC has stopped.

Tillman County Commissioner Joe Don Dickey says they're still at a loss for words after finding out, due to the budget cuts, their contract with the DOC is canceled. They're one of the only few counties in the state that are exclusively dependent on that contract. Tillman County normally gets around $700,000 dollars a year in annual revenue that's going to be lost.

"We're going to be diminished, greatly," said Dickey.

Dickey says since getting the letter last week from the Director of the DOC, they've worked long, hard hours to come up with a back up plan. They're desperate for any other options, to make sure that their staff of roughly 25 people won't lose their job at the jail.

"We're looking at all means here, we'd take federal prisoners or whatever we could get our hands on to show up the holes, but without that, within 60 to 90 days, we'll be down to a Sheriff and a Undersheriff and two or three employees," said Dickey.

Tillman County is not only at stake to lose its jail or building, they may also lose its 9-1-1 call center.

"I don't foresee it going away entirely," said Dickey. "I still think we'll have to operate it someway some form."

Tillman County Sheriff, Bobby Whittington says the deadline before they run out of money and can't afford to pay rent on the building is April 30th. Dickey says it may even be sooner and it puts an enormous amount of stress on them.

"We can't take it any farther than that," said Dickey. "I mean reduction and staff will be effective at that point and it could be quicker than that. I can't tell you."

Dickey understands there are a lot of other budget cuts being made all over the state in the transportation department and in schools, but change is necessary when it comes to finding a solution for balancing the budget.

"We're in dire times," said Dickey. "Until our legislature has the intestinal fortitude to step up and create a revenue stream to fund these state agencies, we're going to stay in this kind of situation."

Sheriff Whittington and Dickey are asking all of the residents in Tillman County to voice their opinion and contact Governor Fallin's Office to help backup the local legislators who are already working to find a solution.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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