The Tulsa County Jail has been at capacity several times over the last few weeks. The jail can hold 1,714 inmates and on Thursday afternoon the jail has 1,765 inmates. The Tulsa County Sheriff's office says this is some of the highest numbers of inmates that the Tulsa County Jail has ever seen. The sheriff's office says they aren't sure why there are so many more inmates. But they think the number of warrants people are walking around with is a big factor."The economy is bad we know that. That can be a contributing factor. We know people just don't have the money to pay their fines," says Major Shannon Clark, TCSO.
Clark says the weather also plays a big role in the number of inmates because just a few months ago there were only twelve hundred inmates. But he says they are seeing a growing trend is people waiting inside instead of paying their fines.
"A trend they are seeing, people in this economy have fines to pay and don't have much of a life style on the outside. They would rather sit in there where they can get a good warm bed and three meals a day and sit out their fines other than trying to make restitution for those crimes," says Clark.
Once the jail is getting close to capacity the sheriff's office starts working closely with the courts to see who may be able to get out. They look at people serving time for non-violent crimes, domestic violence, and child support cases. The main goal is to keep everyone safe and with a detention officers now faced with more and more inmates it because a burden on the system.
"So when you increase the number of bodies that one detention officer is responsible for, over seeing it does case a challenge," says Clark.
The good news is even though the numbers are growing and the staff is having to find places for everyone, there's only one way this problem will affect you.
"It really doesn't mean anything other than unless you want to be incarcerated you might not get a bed," says Clark.
The jail can hold more than two thousand inmates in an emergency situation and the sheriff's office says the number of inmates can change each day by one hundred people.