Delaware County officials work to resolve jail overcrowding


DELAWARE COUNTY, Okla.–Overcrowding has plagued the Delaware County Jail for years. And now, staff members are looking at options to change that.

The problem with overcrowding is a safety concern. This applies to both staff and inmates housed in the jail.

Delaware County Sheriff Harlan Moore is working to fix the many issues he and his staff face on a day-to-day basis as they combat overcrowding at the jail. The Delaware County Jail is licensed by the Department of Health to house 61 inmates and currently, they are 40 inmates over that limit

“Of the 100 that I have probably in the house jail right now about, 10 of those are in there for murder, so they are going to be there for a awhile. The rest of them are all violent offenders,” Moore explained.

The facility has been written up several times, but Moore says there is not a whole lot they can do about it. He works with the district attorney’s office and the courts to help move inmates out as quickly as possible.

“Basically, when you’re overcrowded, there’s no such thing as classification–everybody just thrown inside there,” Moore added. “We have some cells that hold 4, some that hold 6, some that hold 8, and everyone of those had more than that in them. All the cells have inmates on the floors underneath those bunks.”

Sheriff Moore ultimately says he wants the community to know they are doing their best.

“The public at large does not understand the dynamics of what goes on inside of a jail,” Moore explained. “They don’t think much of it until they are actually apart of it. They have a loved one or something in there.”

So, he says it’s time to do something.

“I think they first occupied it in 2000, so every jail year is times four. So, if it’s 2000 and it’s 20 years now, in all reality, it’s about 80 years old,” said Moore.

Moore adds the Oklahoma state legislature passed a bill in 2018 to allow the building of regional jails. This would allow multiple counties to have an all purpose facility. He alongside officials in Ottawa County are looking at building a regional jail for Ottawa and Delaware Counties to use, but are only in early discussions for this plan.

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