Nowata, OK – The Nowata County Jail remains empty tonight hours after a carbon monoxide leak forced their inmates to be evacuated.
Several jailers are recovering after becoming sick.
It’s no secret the Nowata County Jail is in disrepair. Last night’s carbon monoxide leak is a good example.
Undersheriff Mark Kirschner blames the aging building.
It was at shift change, so they all got exposed,” said Kirschner. I wanna know, we wanna know, that this facility is safe.”
But the biggest issue, and one that is synonymous with Nowata County, is the lack of money.
If the money is not there, the money is not there,” said Kirschner.
Last night, Kirschner says one of his correctional officers began feeling light headed and got sick minutes after he says the gas seeped up from the sewer lines under the jail.
“You can be dead before you know it on a carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Kirschner.
Inmates also complained of feeling sick, all getting evacuated immediately.
Those inmates are being kept at the Washington County correctional facility until the Nowata County Jail is fully staffed.
Correctional officers have to be cleared before returning to work.
Right now, it’s possible we’re just going to have to house them elsewhere,” said County Commissioner Burke LaRue.
LaRue was overcome with emotion today at the situation, knowing fully well that this jail needs to be addressed.
We have too many exhaust fans; we don’t have enough inmates in here,” said LaRue.
In fact, last night’s leak couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate time.
A report on the conditions inside the jail is scheduled for Mondays’ commissioners meeting.
I’m worried that someone is going to accuse me of doing this because of the timing and everything going on,” said Kirschner.
In the meantime, the jail will remain empty.
This isn’t worth somebody’s life,” said Kirschner.
It’s a jail that is seemingly not capable of even housing its residents.
We’re told the inmates were all checked out in Bartlesville and are doing fine.
It’s still unclear what caused the leak.