|Updated: 4/15/2013 9:07 am
||Published: 4/12/2013 2:50 pm
Jail overcrowding forced a judge to release non-violent prisoners from the Tulsa County Jail.
On Friday night, a Tulsa County judge released a handful of prisoners being held on municipal charges.
On Friday afternoon, the Sheriff issued an order that FOX23 News obtained stating that temporarily the Sheriff is ceasing booking offenders on city charges unless they are a threat to the public or they are arrested for felony crimes.
These are offenders who don’t pay their court fines, or are arrested for prostitution or non-injury DUI.
“We can reach 2,000 very quickly,” said Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Major Shannon Clark.
Currently, the jail is more than 200 inmates over capacity and inmates continue to sleep in cots.
”He's been in there on the floor this whole time because there is no room in the cell, whatsoever, there is none,” said a woman who didn’t want to be identified.
She was waiting in the parking lot of the jail to pick up her boyfriend who was in jail for not paying a ticket.
The Sheriff’s Office reports there are 1,714 available beds at the jail but there are more than 1,900 prisoners.
“It's becoming a crisis situation,” said Clark.
The sheriff hopes the order will free up space.
"They should get a court date and send them on their way,” said the woman. "They need to let him out and other people it's ridiculous."
FOX23 News reported the jail population was down for the first time in months. Deputies working with judges were moving people through the system quicker to free up space.
A spokesperson for Oklahoma prisons says it’s busting at the seams and reports right now there are eight medium security beds available with 1,800 inmates sitting in jail waiting to be transferred to prison.
"Anyone that is sentenced to the department of corrections needs to go,” said Clark.
The Sheriff invoked the 72-hour rule which means by law the DOC is mandated to accept prisoners to free up jail space.
Currently, the DOC is waiting for lawmakers to approve $6 million in emergency money. DOC Spokesperson Jerry Massie says art of it would pay for two and half months of bed space but that would only fill 300 beds contracted through private prisons.