Delaware County, Sheriff’s deputies were too busy figuratively raping
motorists in the village
of Bernice to supervise guards who were literally raping inmates
in the county jail. As a result, the County Commission has put the
screws to the entire county in the form of an 18 percent sales tax
increase in order to pay the victims a $13.5 million settlement.
which has a population of about 600, is bisected by Highway 85A.
For the past quarter-century, the town has been one of the most
notorious speed traps in the Midwest. Until recently, the town didn’t
have a police department; instead, it contracted with the Delaware
County Commission, paying $5500 a month to rent sheriff’s deputies
to write speeding tickets and other citations.
A recent investigation
conducted by Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary A. Jones
discovered that since 1977, the municipal government had never published
its ordinances as required by state law – which meant that its schedule
of fines and court fees was invalid: The trustees never published
the ordinances, as required by state law.
(other than those pertaining to the appropriation of money) that
are not published within 15 days of their passage are not in force,"
notes the audit.
As a result, "the municipal court should not have collected
fines of more than $50. The court has over-collected approximately
$106,308 in fines through the end of June 2011"; in addition,
the court also "over-collected" nearly $8,000 in court
costs. The auditor directed the Bernice Town Board to reimburse
those who had been subjected to illegal fines (in one instance,
a motorist was given a ticket for $545). More importantly, from
the perspective of those higher up in the tax-feeding chain, the
auditor slammed the Town Board for withholding a cut of ticket revenue
and court fees from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and
state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.