Discrepancies With Inmate Trust Accounts in Craig County

The Tulsa World published an article last weekend detailing accounting discrepancies with inmate trust accounts handled by the Craig County Sheriff’s Office:

A special state audit report of the Craig County Sheriff’s Office inmate trust fund and commissary account found nearly $120,000 in unaccounted for funds over a 4 1/2-year period . . .

Other findings of the audit, which examined records from July 1, 2007, to Jan. 1, 2012, included unauthorized inmate book-in fees, illegal inmate trust fund expenditures, instances of negative bank balances and lack of internal controls over the collection process and accounting, reports show.

According to the audit, a total of $35,986.08 was found not to have been deposited into the inmate trust fund bank account. The trust fund contains cash carried by inmates at book-in, cash or money orders from relatives on behalf of inmates, and checks received from other inmate holding facilities. This money can be used by inmates for commissary purchases during confinement.
Upon release, any funds remaining in the inmate’s account are returned by an inmate trust fund check.

People released from jail are entitled to a return of their property, including any cash or other funds inventoried at the time of booking. It is unknown why the Sheriff’s Department has failed to properly account for the missing funds, but the audit raises several troubling questions: Where are the missing funds? Who authorized the Sheriff to begin collecting illegal booking fees? Have any arrest warrants issued for failure to pay the illegal booking fees? Was anyone held beyond their release date for failing to pay the illegal fees?

The deprivation of a person’s liberty is one of the most serious publishments permitted by our society. The audit raises serious questions about the ability of the Craig County Sheriff’s Department to handle that responsibly with integrity and competency.

–J. Spencer Bryan