The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council met August 15.
A local non-profit explained their mission, the first Annual Report of the council was reviewed, and representatives of three MAPS 4 proposals provided recaps of their City Council presentations.
Clay Bennett, Chair of the council, started the meeting by thanking all the members for their work over the last many months, then asked City Manager Craig Freeman to introduce the new Chief of Police.
Freeman introduced Chief Wade Gourley, saying Gourley has served on the OKCPD for thirty years. He said that Gourley and the other candidates who were interviewed all expressed that criminal justice reform is an important part of what they see as the future of policing. So, that’s nice to hear.
A local non-profit organization called TASK, Teaching And Saving Kids, was invited to tell the council about their program.
Reverend Theodis Manning, the pastor of Divine Wisdom Worship Center and co-founder of TASK, said that the program has the goal of diverting young people from gangs, drugs, and crime.
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Several TASK volunteers who were formerly incarcerated addressed the council and explained what a difference the program makes in their own life.
“Volunteering with TASK is how I undo a lot of the damage I’ve created in my life,” said a volunteer who identified himself as José.
After the presentation Bennett asked Manning what the organization needs. Manning said, simply, “We need funding.”
Tim Tardibono, Executive Director of CJAC, presented the first Annual Report of the organization.
He pointed to the last nine months of numbers of “Jail Counts,” or the number of people in the jail per month.
Tardibono says that the counts have shown a “strong tendency” toward being consistent. These counts are among the lowest since 1997.
He said that the lowering of that number is owed in large part to the efforts of the agencies represented on the council.
MAPS 4 Recaps
Sue Ann Arnall, a member of CJAC, was invited to give a brief recap of her proposal of a Diversion Hub for MAPS 4.
She explained the vision of a “one-stop-shop” for services assisting people who are engaged in the criminal justice system.
Having a place that people would be able to receive combined services would help not only those receiving services, but would also save our city, county, and state money by keeping more people from being incarcerated.
Dan Straughan, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance and member of CJAC, told the council about the MAPS 4 proposal made by a coalition of people addressing homelessness.
Straughan said that in 1979 there were 3000 units of public housing in Oklahoma City. In 2019, there are 3000 units of public housing in Oklahoma City. He said that part of the proposal includes “work-force housing,” and that this is a homelessness prevention measure.
County Commissioner Carrie Blumert came before the council to explain her proposal of MAPS 4 Mental Health. She said the plan includes a Restoration Center, Crisis Intervention Centers, and 30 units of temporary supportive housing.
The Restoration Center would provide one site for many of the services needed by people currently experiencing a mental health crisis and those who have recently experienced a crisis, including 16 mental health crisis beds.
The proposal also asks for two new Crisis Intervention Centers. That would take the total number of mental health crisis beds in Oklahoma city from 32 to 80.
The 30 units of temporary housing would be for people being discharged from crisis centers who are experiencing homelessness. Instead of returning to the streets, they would have transitional housing where they would continue to receive services. Once they achieve stability, they will be able to move on to traditional housing.
After the presentations Straughan spoke up to recognize the City Manager, Mayor, and City Council for listening to 30 hours of input from community partners and city residents. Straughan made no mention whatsoever about the independent journalists who also sat through those 30 hours but in a far less comfortable seat.
Tricia Everest, Chair of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, was invited to give an update on the Jail Trust.
She said that over the months since the Trust was established the Trustees have made a great deal of progress in learning about the jail.
When the original trust indenture was recommended by CJAC to the Board of County Commissioners, the council suggested Everest, M.T. Berry, Jim Couch, and Sue Ann Arnall be made Trustees. The Commissioners accepted that recommendation and Everest was made Chair and Couch Vice-Chair.
City Manager Craig Freeman updated the council on the process of establishing an inter-agency “Data Hub.” The agencies attempting to find a way to share data easily but securely and appropriately.
Tardibono said that the next CJAC meeting would be a field trip to Tulsa to visit the Tulsa County Jail. If enough members of the council attend, it will constitute a quorum and will be an open meeting by state law. However, people wishing to attend are politely requested to notify CJAC so that the Tulsa County Sheriff may compile a list of attendees for the sake of safety and security.
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