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OKLAHOMA COUNTY (Free Press) — The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, more commonly known as the Jail Trust, held their first meeting of 2022 on Monday afternoon.

During the brief meeting, the Trust heard the customary report from CEO Greg Williams on operations at the Jail.

The Trust went on to elect their Chair and Vice-Chair for the year, before also revisiting the long dormant idea of a Citizens Advisory Board for the Trust.

Marty Peercy reports Local government

Monthly Report

Trust CEO Greg Williams delivered his monthly report on Jail operations for the Trust on Monday. Since it has been only a short two weeks since his last report, the details of operations in December were brief and not dissimilar to the prior report.

Williams said that during the course of December, the Jail released 1,901 people and booked in 1,804. During the month the Jail served 142,651 meals. The administration is still holding fast to a standard of two hot meals per day.

As COVID is on the rise in our community, we must expect the same to be the case in the Jail.

Williams gave no numbers of tests administered or positive cases over the last few weeks, but did confirm that there are currently 17 staff members out for quarantine after exposures to the virus. Williams added that number may rise to 19 before the end of day.

Williams pointed out to the Trust that his reports are typically for the purpose of sharing what progress or improvements have been made, but stated that it was also his responsibility to explain mistakes and failings at the Jail.

Jail Trust
Oklahoma County Jail administrator Greg Williams gives a report on the current state of the Jail Sept 20, 2021. (file, BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Williams went on to give a few details about a recent death in the Jail.

On Sunday, December 26, at approximately 4:20 a.m., detainee Gabriel Yalartai was found in his cell having apparently completed suicide. Attempts to resuscitate Yalartai were unsuccessful.

Williams said the incident is still being investigated, but that one employee had been identified as breaking policy and procedure in the incident, and that employee has been terminated.

No criminal charges have been filed, as the investigation is ongoing. The results of the investigation will be handed over to the District Attorney’s office, according to Williams.

Williams also explained a contraband incident that transpired recently at the Jail.

While the administration of the Jail is vigilant about contraband, it is a problem that plagues jails and prisons across the country.

One staff member was recently found to have an unauthorized cell phone on their person while working in the Jail. Upon inspection of the phone, some “disturbing images” were found. Some reports have described those images as “child pornography.”

That staff member was immediately fired and was arrested by local law enforcement.

Leadership chosen

The Trust held a vote for the body’s Chair and Vice-Chair on Monday afternoon, as well.

Since the resignation of Tricia Everestt in April, former City Manager Jim Couch has held the role of Chair of the Trust with Senator Ben Brown holding the position of Vice-Chair.

At Monday’s meeting, Couch and Brown–in his absence–were re-elected to hold those seats for the next year. There was little discussion and the vote was unanimous.

Jail Trust
Jail Trust Chair Jim Couch listens to a presentation during a meeting 11-15-21. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Citizens Advisory Board

Finally, on Monday, the Trust took up a resolution to empanel a new Citizens Advisory Board (CAB).

A separate body was previously empaneled by then Sheriff P.D. Taylor before the transition of control of the Jail to the Trust.

After the Jail Trust was formed, the Trust voted to absorb that previous body. Since that time, the Citizens Advisory Board has had no real role to play in the operations or considerations of the Trust, despite the Sheriff having a seat on the Authority.

Monday’s resolution would empanel a new CAB with nine members.

Each Trustee will be entitled to appoint one member to the new CAB. One proviso of the resolution holds that removing a member of the CAB will require a vote by the Trust.

Sheriff Tommie Johnson, III commented on the resolution before voting. Johnson pointed out that the original CAB formed under the previous Sheriff had some wonderful members of the community who would be able to provide some much needed insight. He asked if members of that original board could be considered for the new Board.

Chairman Couch asked Johnson to provide a list of those people to the rest of the Trust so each member might consider people from the original group before February.

The Trust then voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.

Trustees are asked to make their appointments known by the 10th of February.

The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority will meet again on February 7 at 1:00 p.m.

jail trust
The full membership of the Jail Trust 11-15-21. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Last Updated January 3, 2022, 4:14 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor