|Updated: 10/11/2013 12:56 am
||Published: 10/10/2013 1:48 am
The clock is ticking for a Green Country sheriff fighting to keep his jail open.
FOX23 has learned the Adair County Jail only has enough money to operate for the next five months.
It is currently run by the Jail Trust, but if the jail faces being closed, Hardin says it falls on the commissioners to fund it.
Sheriff David Hardin told FOX23's Dontaye Carter a Jail Trust board member suggested he cut the staff. He said he's already done that and is working with the bare minimum. He added if he cut anymore position he would be running the jail illegally.
"Right now we're looking at a jail that is financially failing," said Hardin. "We're doing everything we can to pull it out the water."
Hardin said the jail was built and expected to run with a half-cent sales tax and contract prisoner that would be housed at the jail from the Department of Corrections. He said the DOC stopped contracting their prisoners with them in 2009 and the tax isn't enough to keep the doors open.
"We still have to feed, house and clothes the inmates that we have," he added.
FOX23 found out that cost about $27 a day per inmate. Hardin said there are nearly 60 inmates in the jail now.
Back in August, Carlos Locust, a convicted murderer escaped from the jail. Hardin said the inmate used his nails to unscrew the metal tile in the ceiling when the jailers weren't looking to get out of his cell. The sheriff said this wouldn't have happened if he could afford to keep a bigger staff. Hardin said he can't afford to let anyone else go.
"We cannot cut anymore and stay within the law," he said.
The Oklahoma Jail Standards, which list how many people, are required to be in a jail, showed with the amount of inmates Adair County has there needed at least two jailers on the floor, one in the kitchen and another in the control room. That is what the jail is functioning off of right now.
If it does close inmates could be sent to the Sequoyah County jail. Its 26 miles away and the county could face having to come up with double the money it would've taken to just keep their own jail open. Hardin said it cost about $58,000 to $63,000 to run the jail each month. He said that could easily jump to nearly $100,000 if inmates have to be transported to another county.
"The worst thing to happen is for this jail to close because then they'll have to house prisoners in another county," Hardin told FOX23.
FOX23 reached out to Jail Trust board member Bill Langley and Commissioner Sam Chandler. Chandler declined to comment saying FOX23 should be at Tuesday's meeting, which will discuss the future of the jail. Sources close to the situation say budgets are tight but add this is bigger than getting the jail funding. We've learned back in February, a relative of Chandler led deputies on a high speed chase after she allegedly ran a stop sign. She was charged with alluding deputies. FOX23 obtained video of that chase.
"Had there not been this incident back in February, Do you think it would have been as hard to work with the commissioners as it's been?" asked FOX23's Dontaye Carter.
"I think that if that had not occurred probably wouldn't have the same issues I'm having as sheriff and running the jail," said Hardin. "I know what the money issue is but I think things might've been a little easier if the situation hadn't occurred."
The meeting on discussing the jail's future will begin Monday 9:30 a.m. at the Adair County Courthouse.