Canadian County inmates ‘return’

Ellis County will no longer house them; other jail bed space sought

Canadian County sheriff’s officials want to find more space in other county jails to house county inmates when the Canadian County Jail, 304 N Evans, reaches its 194-bed capacity. Ellis County’s sheriff recently informed the sheriff’s office his jail would no longer keep Canadian County’s prisoners. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – The sheriff of one county that regularly houses more than a dozen Canadian County inmates has informed Canadian County officials that his jail will no longer keep them.

Since 2013, the Canadian County Jail at 304 N Evans has had an official 194-bed capacity.

When space is full, the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office utilizes inmate housing contracts with other counties.

Kevin Ward

The goal is to reduce overcrowding at Canadian County’s detention center, Undersheriff Kevin Ward explained.

Canadian County sheriff’s personnel have regularly transported Canadian County inmates to stay at county jails in Grant, Washita, Ellis, and Logan counties.

In the previous three months, an average of 36 Canadian County inmates have been housed in these other counties.

Over the last 13 weeks, Ellis County has consistency housed the most Canadian County inmates among these contracted counties – averaging 14 per week with a high of 19 on Oct. 17.

Canadian County’s inmate count at the Ellis County Jail was down to 10 on Nov. 14, when Undersheriff Kevin Ward shared frustrating news with Canadian County Commissioners.

“The middle of last week, the sheriff of Ellis County put us on notice that he signed some federal contracts and so we need to remove our inmates from his jail,” Ward said Monday morning. “We’ll be doing that today and tomorrow.

“We’ll be having to look even further to see if we can find some additional space.”

On Monday, there already were 195 Canadian County inmates inside the county’s detention center – one above capacity.

New inmate housing agreements with Logan and Grady counties were approved earlier this year when Dewey County greatly reduced the number of inmates they accepted from Canadian County and increased its housing rates.

Canadian County pays other counties daily housing rates ranging from around $18 to $45 per inmate.

Federal government agencies typically pay considerably more to house its prisoners in county jails, thereby reducing available space for Canadian County inmates.



Undersheriff Ward previously checked with Custer County, but their jail was full and “didn’t have capacity” to house any Canadian County inmates.

“We’ve reached out to Kingfisher County,” Ward told county commissioners. “They built a new jail, but they’ve had some construction issues and are not able to use the whole jail.

“Grady County has a large facility, but they never have capacity whenever we’ve tried to put inmates there. We went ahead and signed a contract with them in an emergency, but they’ve yet to have capacity to help us.”

The closing of privately-owned prisons has created “supply and demand” issues for jail bed space, according to District 1 Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader.