Lincoln County voters to consider plan for new jail on Tuesday

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CHANDLER, Okla. (KFOR) – On Tuesday, Lincoln County voters will vote on a proposition that would increase their property taxes in order to pay for a new county jail.

If approved, Sheriff Charlie Dougherty said he would like to acquire a contract with a federal agency, selling beds in the jail to them, to make a profit.

“I’m trying to turn this into a business and let’s try to make some money other than to just throw money at it every day,” Sheriff Charlie Dougherty said during a townhall meeting back on June 30th.

He’s talking about his vision for the future of the Lincoln County Jail.

“The feds are never going to build a jail for themselves, so they contract with counties,” Sheriff Dougherty said.

Dougherty is hoping to acquire a contract with an agency, like ICE or the U.S. Marshals, selling beds to the federal government for profit once the county builds a new jail.

He said it could earn the department around $1.2 million a year, which is his current budget for the facility, keeping him from having to ask the county commissioner for those funds.

It’s a move other counties, like Grady and Logan, have done in recent years.

“So we said you know let’s build a bigger place that we can sell some beds to the federal government and make this the business that it is,” Dougherty said.

On Tuesday, Lincoln County voters will vote on a proposition that would increase their property taxes to pay for the construction of a new jail.

Dougherty said a new facility has been needed for years because the current building is plagued with problems and is overcrowded.

“I think it’s wrong for people to profit off another person’s mistake,” Kris Steele, Director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, told News 4.

Steele feels these federal contracts, like the one Sheriff Dougherty is hoping to acquire, are heartbreaking.

“The reality is Oklahoma has like the second highest incarceration rate per capita of any state in the nation, and I suspect that our mass incarceration rates in Oklahoma are directly related to these financial incentives,” said Steele. “When a leader in law enforcement finds a way to make money off a person who commits a crime, it just breaks my heart because I think that at the end of the day, we’re better than that as Oklahomans.”

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“We know what we have been doing forever, let’s try something different,”  Sheriff Dougherty said.

The polls in Lincoln County are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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