In Thursday’s regular meeting of the Oklahoma County Budget Board heard the second annual report of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC).
Among other points reported about the Oklahoma County Jail, the disparity between the population percentage of Blacks in the County compared to the percentage incarcerated continues to cause concern.
The Board also voted in favor of some reimbursements using CARES money.
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CJAC is a recommending body consisting of interested private citizens, local law enforcement, non-profits, and city and county officials from around the metro area. The body meets monthly and is chaired by Clay Bennett.
Executive Director of CJAC, Timothy Tardibono, delivered the second Annual Report of the organization to the Budget Board. He stated that an important purpose of CJAC was to collect data on the Oklahoma County Detention Center (Jail) and make recommendations based on that data.
Tardibono showed a graph tracking the daily population of the jail over the last several years. For Fiscal Year 2020, the average daily population was 1,624 inmates. That is down considerably from past years where the daily average reached as high as 2,400.
Tardibono said that there are many reasons for this decline, but pointed out the efforts of several organizations and diversion programs in the metro area.
Reached via email for comment, Tardibono said, “Safely reducing the jail population can be attributed to the work of numerous programs in OK County including the Diversion Hub, Northcare, the Metro Alliance’s Public Inebriate Alternative and First Step, ReMerge, TEEM Community Sentencing Program and Pretrial Program, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and a Veteran’s diversion program among others.”
“Also, new programs are coming online through the DA’s Office for Veteran’s Court and the 2020 launch of the Bail Project pre-Covid,” said Tardibono.
“The MAPS 4 infusion of over $100 million in justice-related programs mentioned in the Report, will only further expand the diversion and treatment options in OK County to continue the progress on safely reducing the jail population.”
Tardibono also pointed out a diminishment in the number of people received by Department of Corrections from Oklahoma County.
In FY20, 1,699 residents of the Jail were transferred to DOC custody. The year before that number was 2,043. He said that the number should decrease even more as those organizations mentioned above enjoy success in their efforts.
The jail still shows a shocking disparity in black population compared to other demographics. Currently 34% of those incarcerated at the County Jail are black, while 51% are white, 11% Hispanic, and 4% Native American.
In contrast, less than 15% of people in Oklahoma County identify as African-American.
The Budget Board undertook two separate agenda items for CARES money.
The first was a reimbursement of general fund money in the amount of $68,561.56. This money will make up for expenses such as supplies and staffing to make facilities more safe from coronavirus.
The second item was for $23,823.64 of CARES money to go toward computers and associated equipment for members of county departments to work from home. Some of that money will also be used by the Juvenile Bureau to automate some hand washing stations.
The Oklahoma County Budget Board is made up of all of the County’s elected officials.
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