An Oklahoma sheriff and nearly all of her staff resigned this week to protest what she says are dangerous jail conditions for both inmates and staff.
Sheriff Terry Sue Barnett told local media a carbon monoxide leak that occurred last month and sent four employees to the emergency room had not been addressed, a proper fire alarm system wasn't in place and methane gases permeate the jail because of poorly-installed plumbing. She also said inmates had been shocked while taking showers because of exposed wiring, USA Today reports.
Twelve members of the Nowata County Sheriff's Office staff, including all deputies, the head dispatcher and most of the jail staff, resigned with Barnett. The office’s K-9 ranger even quit, signing paperwork with a paw print, Barnett said.
Right now, Nowata County prisoners are being held in Washington County after a carbon monoxide leak at the jail in February. On Monday, Nowata County Judge Carl Gibson ordered Sheriff Barnett to bring the prisoners back to Nowata, which triggered her resignation.
Judge Gibson ordered Barnett and her undersheriff to a court appearance on Tuesday.
ABC Tulsa says what unfolded was a confusing hearing that only resulted in people questioning the future of NCSO, the jail, and the county itself.
"I don’t think one person walked out of there with any clear direction on anything that happened today," said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton.
At the start of the "administrative hearing," Judge Gibson gave some on-the-record remarks on the situation. He said, as a judge, he has an "obligation to live within a budget." He continued, saying that the sheriff (Barnett) has shown a "willful indifference" to the budget.