Tulsa County Jail Is Overcrowded: What that Means for Tax Payers

The Tulsa County Jail continues to be above capacity. The most number of inmates the building should hold is set at 1,714 inmates. Major Shannon Clark with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says once they reach 1,650 inmates, they are at capacity, and this week, the number of inmates has reached 1,863. The annual budget for the jail is supposed to accommodate thirteen hundred inmates, and with this weeks numbers, it means the budget is being stretched thin.

"Everyone is affected if we have to go ask for more funding to operate the jail," says Major Clark.

Major Clark says the sheriff's office is looking at several things to figure out why this is happening, but they know two factors that are driving the number up.

"We are seeing a significant trend in local and state warrants. Lots and lots of people are coming in on warrants," says Major Clark, "We are seeing an increase in violent crimes and the bonds are so high that people can't bond out."

Once the number of inmates reaches a certain point, the courts start working with the sheriff's office to see who can be released. But there is another growing problem; Major Clark says people are not paying their minor tickets for things like speeding.

"They get issued a citations and then they forget to go pay it or they forget to go to court. Then a warrant is issued for their arrest," says Major Clark, "Most people don't know who to call. They don't where to go. They don't know where to pay their fines."

Major Clark says you have to contact the county or city clerk to get the information you need. The county clerk tells that you can come to the second floor of the courthouse and talk with the traffic district attorney and they can help you pay your fines or set up a payment plan.

No matter what the number gets to, Major Clark says local law enforcement still has a job to do.

"If we stop somebody and they come back and say they have a warrant, we then have to impose a court order on that person and we have to take them to jail we can't stop doing that," says Major Clark.