Jail overcrowding causing overtime

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 5/06/2013 5:17 pm Published: 5/06/2013 4:50 pm

Detention officers are working overtime to keep up with the demands of an overcrowded Tulsa County Jail.

FOX23's Ian Silver looks at the toll this is taking on jail guards.

Each pod is supposed to have 96 inmates most of them have more than 100 right now. The detention officers don't carry guns or tasers so they have to rely on their training, even though they weren't trained to handle so many inmates by themselves.

"I'm always on guard. You just always have to be on your toes." For close to a year Sally Matthews has been a detention officer in Tulsa County.

She loves her job and appears to be well-liked by the inmates, even though she is responsible for controlling so many people at once.

"It makes the noise level louder, which can make your stress level go up. But that's when you make the pod run at your pace, not the inmates' pace."

As the number of inmates grows the number of people on her team is constantly changing, "there is a very high turnover rate for the detention officers."

They struggle to maintain staffing levels of one detention officer for every 36 inmates at all times, "not very many can mentally take the job. It’s not physically hard. It can be stressful."

At an average starting salary of about $24,000 a year…

"We're not the highest-paying industry in and around Tulsa. So, we have to compete with that as well."

Plus, the hours are long. “For 12 hours a day they're locked in a unit with sometimes more than 100 people."

Filling gaps when officers are out has caused overtime pay to skyrocket so the jail is going back to 8-hour shifts in June.

Even though the inmate population is so high Matthews takes it all in stride, determined not to let it affect how she does her job.

“Come here, make sure they stay safe, stay firm, fair and consistent with each and every one of them."

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 5/7/2013 10:35 AM
0 Votes
Who would be surprised to hear Moss Jail dressed up for the photo op? There's more PR here than news.

Unwashed Mass - 5/7/2013 10:33 AM
1 Vote
OTOH, how do you suppose the jailers would react to loosing all that overtime pay?

stephanie - 5/6/2013 9:56 PM
1 Vote
If The mental health and drug courts would place their offenders in mental health facilities or rehab facilities instead of into jail for minor infractions it might help with some of the over crowding. I know an inmate who is currently housed at David L. Moss for cussing at his therapist and calling her a name. He is part of mental health court. Most of the inmates housed with my brother (the above mentioned) are there for failure to pay! If they are grisly concerned about over crowding they should take a look at the reasons so many are there. I fully support Gov. Mary Fallin in her decision to not give our jail system anymore money. We should be finding alternatives to using the jail as a mental health facility and a drug rehab facility.

Foxhunter1 - 5/6/2013 5:13 PM
1 Vote
I just saw the news report and it showed two officers to a pod. There are NEVER two officers in the pod, even when there was 114 inmates in a pod.
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