McClain County’s jail population is bucking a historic trend and that isn’t good news.
On Tuesday morning there were 89 prisoners in a jail designed to hold 53.
But the total number incarcerated by the county was 117. That’s because 28 additional county prisoners are being housed at the taxpayers’ expense in jails outside McClain County.
That cost is more than $1,000 per day.
Sheriff Don Hewett said at this time of year, total jail incarcerations number in the 70s.
Current numbers are 32.5 to 40.2 percent higher than the norm.
Hewett is at a loss to explain why numbers this year are trending so much higher.
Could it be the population growth in McClain County at large?
Perhaps. McClain County is among the fastest growing counties in Oklahoma.
Or is it the result of aggressive law enforcement?
McClain County prosecutors filed 1,347 criminal cases in 2019 – 462 felonies and 885 misdemeanors.
That is a jump of 227 criminal cases from 2018’s 1,120 filings.
It is also 361 more than the 986 filed in 2015.
And if you were thinking that recent criminal justice reforms in Oklahoma would help jail overcrowding in McClain County, think again.
“It could be a lot of factors,” the sheriff said. “Historically we are down in the 70s this time of year and we are well over that.”
In November, McClain County voters nixed a proposed $23.75 million county bond issue that would have included a new jail.