The Carter County jail has been working to replace two air conditioning units that quit working two weeks ago, and at Monday’s County Commissioner meeting one local citizen demanded answers.
Sada McClennahan has a grandchild in the county jail and is very concerned about the conditions in the pod her loved one is being kept in.
“Why hasn’t the air conditioning been fixed already?” McClennahan asked. “The prisoners are going to get irritated and start fights. They need air conditioning. We taxpayers pay our taxes and want answers.”
Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant told McClennahan that they are doing everything in their power to get the air conditioners replaced. Bryant said the air conditioners in the jail are over 20 years old and have been repaired countless times.
The jail has eight cell-pods with two air conditioners cooling each pod. During the same week, both air conditioners in one pod quit working, and officials have been scrambling to get the units fixed before the Oklahoma heat adversely impacts the prisoners.
“You can piece them along, and piece them along, but when they break, they break,” Bryant said. “We have to have these commercial air conditioners built for the jail, it’s not something you can go pick up at the store. We’re working very closely with the county commissioners to get the units repaired as fast as we can.”
For McClennahan, the efforts weren’t enough.
“I don’t think you have done everything you can,” she said. “If that was the air conditioner at your house, you would be calling the company and demanding to know where your parts are.”
She added that her worry stems from the fact that it’s summer time and the jail is overcrowded.
The Carter County Jail’s capacity is 186 inmates. However, the jail has been housing more than 200 inmates in recent days, with some days reaching a census of 257. Bryant said the jail has been overcrowded since before he took office in December.
On Monday, the jail’s population was at 238 inmates.
Bryant said that the jail has had four units go out this summer and once the first two were fixed, two more failed. He added the average cost of each unit is between $4,000- $6,000.
The commissioners also renewed their year-long legal contract with the law offices of Tisdal and O’Hara. The law firm is representing the county in litigation filed by DCP Midstream, a petroleum company headquartered in Denver, Colo.
DCP Midstream has filed suit against several counties in an effort to dispute “certain ad valorem tax issues” they have with the assessor’s offices, Carter County Clerk Kayelyn Clubb said.
The contract agrees to pay senior partners of the firm $275 per hour, associates $175 per hour and paralegals or legal assistants $65 per hour.
The commissioners also passed a motion that allowed the sheriff’s office to incinerate 10-year-old uniforms that the department no longer uses. The sheriff’s office incinerates them so they cannot be used for any other purpose.