MIAMI — Ninety-seven inmates — both male and female — from Ottawa County remain on lockdown at the Tulsa County jail following their evacuation following an electrical fire in the ceiling of the jail here on Saturday, Oct. 19.
While no one was injured, the almost-100 inmates were relocated and continue to be housed at three locations: the Tulsa, Delaware, and Craig county jails, with the majority in Tulsa, where they continue to cause problems so serious that Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies have to remain with them and keep them under guard at all times.
During the fire, power to the jail was cut for safety reasons, which shut off the security system and electronic doors, etc., but that has been restored and cleanup efforts have been ongoing since. Officials here are waiting for final reports from inspectors and insurance adjustors who will have to give the all clear for habitation before the prisoners can be brought back.
The current goal is to get the inmates in Tulsa moved to Craig County as soon as possible in order to have them closer and cut down on the time and expenses involved with their transportation to and from Ottawa County for hearings, etc.
Undersheriff Dan Cook reported that the plan under discussion is to get prisoner pods A and B functional first so that they can bring back the inmates who are being the most unruly and causing the most problems.
Cook also said that they do not have enough manpower or funds to further expedite getting the jail back open and all the prisoners returned here for housing.
Commissioner Russell Earls said they are working on that during the county commissioner meeting Monday, Oct. 28.
Earls also recommended to Cook that jail officials have the jail interior painted (after the planned power washing), in addition to adding security measures to keep prisoners from further damaging the pods they are housed in. Cook said that insurance should cover the expenses that are fire-related, but that he didn’t know beyond that.
Adding insult to injury, the jail’s sprinkler/suppression system did not activate during the fire, which most likely made the resulting damage worse. Earls again Monday advised jail officials to get that system functioning properly post haste.
Noting that the jail has been near capacity (124) much of the time since it was built in 1996, commissioner Mike Furnas said the wear and tear on the facility is comparable to how a dog’s age is assessed – seven years for every one of normal years.
And Earls said, “It’s like a Motel 6 that’s open and full all the time.”
Commissioners Furnas, Chad Masterson and Earls, excise board chairman Larry Gatewood, District Attorney Kenny Wright, Emergency Management Director Chad Holcomb, and other officials toured the jail again Monday, escorted by Cook.
No definite timeline has yet been established for when the jail will be back up and running.