Comanche County, Oklahoma

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Daily challenges of county jails changes over the years

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 Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney says he never would have dreamed when he was first elected in 2009 that he would one day have five people accused of murder in his jail all at the same time, all under the age of 21. But he did this past year.   

Likewise, he never would have thought that gang members would become such a problem, including one inmate associated with the “Honduran mafia” who recently set a fire in his cell, forcing the dangerous evacuation of inmates to another part of the lockup and hospital treatment of a jailer for smoke inhalation. But the sheriff did.   

Mirroring Stephens County, the average age of inmates at the Comanche County Detention Center has fallen in recent years, Chief Administrator William Hobbs said. And he, too, has seen an increase in the number of gang members and in gang violence in the jail.   

“When I first started (the average age) was probably 35-40. As time has passed, they’re getting younger and younger. The average now is below 30,” Hobbs said. “I may have four or five gangs I’m trying to keep separate, but I don’t have the room.”   

Adding to their daily challenges, both McKinney and Hobbs said they have had to deal with increasing numbers of females being incarcerated and also with inmates who don’t speak English. As jail populations have risen, they’ve had more and more problems, too, with offenders who are addicted to drugs or who have serious mental health issues, or both.   

“The mental health problems keep increasing mainly because the state has reduced funding for helping people with their mental health problems,” Hobbs said. “A lot of people medicate themselves with street drugs, then when they get locked up their mental health problems come back. So now you’ve got to deal with them on a different level.”

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Invitation to Bid - 06.06.14

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The Comanche County Purchasing Department has placed a SALE OF TEN (10) SALVAGED FORD CROWN VICTORIA SEDANS AND OTHER VEHICLES up for bid. To view, click HERE.

   

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