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Nowata County sheriff's deputies resign amid issues with jail

Posted: 1:02 PM, Mar 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-18 16:44:13-04
Jail

NOWATA, Okla. — Multiple deputies with the Nowata County Sheriff's Office have resigned, 2 Works for You has learned.

Sheriff Terry Sue Barnett says a judge is asking her to open the Nowata County Jail, but Sue says she isn't going to open it.

Nowata County inmates have been at the Washington County Jail since the end of February, when carbon monoxide was discovered.

"There are too many issues with the jail and it's not suitable for inmates or employees," Barnett said.

A judge ordered Barnett to make an appearance at 1 p.m. at the courthouse. During the appearance, Barnett resigned, but the judge did not accept her resignation. The judge wants Barnett to bring the inmates back to the Nowata County Jail from Washington County Jail, where they have been housed after high carbon monoxide levels were detected and made people sick.

“I do not work for the judge. The judge is an elected official. I am also an elected official," Barnett said. "I do not believe we live in a country where we can be ordered to go to work when I have already tendered my resignation.”

Barnett's resignation letter outlines several reasons why she believes the jail is unsafe for both employees and inmates.

"The condition of the jail is such that it does not comply with constitutional standards," she wrote.

Some of her claims are: There is no fire alarm system, the CO2 issue has not been resolved, electrical wiring is exposed in showers, mold is present in the facility and methane permeates through sewer lines.

Barnett's resignation letter can be read below.

The judge says Barnett and the undersheriff are ordered to go back to work to maintain law and order in the county. If they do not, it could result in the court taking further action.

Barnett and her undersheriff are due back in court on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

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