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Nowata County

Posted: Mar 05, 2019 2:34 PMUpdated: Mar 05, 2019 3:17 PM

Nowata County Left with Few Solutions for Jail

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Max Gross

The Nowata County Jail has been topic of controversy due to recent developments. Those include a carbon monoxide leak at the facility last Thursday that forced jail inmates to be evacuated and sent to Washington County for holding for the near future. Nowata County Sheriff Terry sue Barnett stated in a press conference on Monday that the inmates returning to the jail is not a solution at this time.

During Monday’s county commissioners meeting a report was presented by Michelle Robinette, an independent consultant. Robinette made several claims about jail policies and structural deficiencies that put inmates and staff at safety risks. Robinette did offer solutions on how the county should proceed going forward.

An agreement is currently in place with Washington County to house the inmates. The agreement holds Nowata County liable for inmate health after the carbon monoxide incident. The terms of the deal run through June 30.

Issues with the jail have been well-documented under Sheriff Barnett’s term, even before it. Bartlesville Radio had previously reported on severe plumbing issues in the facility. Also, the state fire marshal pointed out last month that the building did not have an active sprinkler system leaving all in the building at risk.

Robinette and Barnett both agree that the current state of the jail is unfit to be occupied. District 3 commissioner Troy Friddle says jail maintenance is in the hands of the sheriff.

Friddle’s statement was met with opposition. Chairman Doug Sonenberg said a joint effort between the commissioners and the sheriff is necessary to fix these issues. Barnett says with no funding in place to repair or replace the jail, contracting with another county is the only solution at this time.

Robinette will continue to consult with Nowata County in its effort to find a solution for the jail.


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