Out-of-county inmate housing costs jump for Canadian County

Undersheriff cites price increases, competition for bed space

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Kevin Ward

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – The Canadian County Sheriff’s Office is facing cost hikes to house the county’s inmates in outside jails.

“There are a couple factors involved,” Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward said. “One of them is that prices are going up.

“Also, a couple of the counties have entered into contracts with federal agencies – and the federal government pays a lot more per day; as much as $55-60 a day.”

Since 2013, the Canadian County Jail has had an official 194-inmate capacity.

When bed space is full, Canadian County Jail officials regularly utilize inmate housing contracts that the sheriff’s office has with seven other counties.

“We’re housing, on average, 40 inmates a day outside the county,” Ward said.

Canadian County pays these counties daily per-prisoner rates ranging from $18 to the low $40s.

The goal is to reduce overcrowding issues at the county lock-up, Undersheriff Ward explained.

In recent months, the Dewey County Jail greatly reduced the number of inmates they will accept from Canadian County.

“Dewey had kind of ‘squeezed’ us out; we were down to a couple of prisoners a day,” Ward said. “We used to have 13 to 15 there.”

The reduction in available bed space is due to the Dewey County Jail now housing Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) inmates at a significantly higher rate than Canadian County is paying, he explained.

A similar situation has occurred at the Ellis County Jail.

“They’ll hold about 15 to 18 of our inmates a day at any one time,” Ward noted.

Ellis County officials recently notified the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office they would not renew the inmate housing contract at a $18 daily rate when it expires June 30.

After negotiations, the contract will be renewed at a daily rate in the $30s effective July 1.

“We’ve been doing $18 a day for years, and costs have gone up – as we’re all experiencing,” Ward added.

For several years, Canadian County Commissioners have contracted with Dewey, Grant, Ellis, and Washita counties and transport and house Canadian County inmates when needed.

In 2022, county commissioners have approved new inmate housing contracts with Logan County ($41 per day) and Grady County ($45 per day) as a “back-up” to provide more options.

The Canadian County Sheriff’s Office would like to have agreements with other counties, especially Kingfisher since it’s close. Inmate transport costs have likewise risen due to higher fuel prices.

Meanwhile, the Canadian County Jail will house inmates for some municipalities inside the county. The sheriff’s office charges a $41 daily rate per prisoner.

The county jail regularly holds municipal prisoners for Union City and Piedmont, Ward said.

“We also sign municipal contracts with Yukon and El Reno, but they rarely use our jail for a city charge,” he added.

On June 27, Canadian County’s inmate population count totaled 233 – with 191 prisoners “in-house” and 42 held in contract facilities.

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NEW BODY SCANNER

A new full-body scanner is due to arrive soon at the Canadian County Jail, 304 N Evans.

“We just learned we going to have to obtain a radiation permit from the department of Environmental Quality,” Ward noted. “We’re in the process of getting that; it’s going to be about $1,000.”

Detention officers will use the 3 foot-by 6-foot machine to check inmates for contraband – specifically drugs and weapons – when they are booked into the jail.

“It’s not as elaborate as what you see at the airports,” Ward added. “But it’s something similar.”

Canadian County Commissioners in May awarded a $147,000 bid to Tek 84, Inc. to install the body scanning equipment in the jail’s receiving area.

Canadian County Jail Administrator Kristie Carter recommended commissioners award the contract to Tek 84 although this company had the highest price among four vendors submitted bids.

That’s because the jail’s inmate area can accommodate Tek 84’s body scanner. The other vendors’ machines were larger and would have required significant remodeling inside the jail.

“We’re trying to put a stop to the illegal contraband being brought in,” Ward said.

Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson called the body scanner a “much-needed tool for intaking prisoners” at the jail.

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