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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — On Wednesday, all four subcommittees of the recently empaneled Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority Citizens Advisory Board (Jail Trust CAB) were scheduled to meet at various times throughout the day.

All but one group, the Recruitment and Retention of Staff Subcommittee, managed to achieve quorum for the meetings. The Recruitment Subcommittee was attended only by CAB Chair Kris Steele and member Pastor Ray Douglas, with members Erin Engelke (Vice-Chair of the CAB) and Pastor Derrick Scobey absent. The subcommittee will hold their first meeting at a date to be determined.

During the meetings those subcommittees chose chairs and vice-chairs, established times and dates for future meetings, and discussed the purpose and functions of each group. Each subcommittee also discussed adding non-CAB members to their groups.

Marty Peercy reports Local government

Community Relationships

The Community Relationships Subcommittee met a little after 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday with members Hannah Royce, June Elkins-Baker, and Erin Engelke present. Member Leslie NesSmith was not present. CAB Chair Steele was present, and stated that he wanted to be on that subcommittee but had made a mistake in his volunteering and missed the opportunity to join, but asked to be added by the group. It was determined with County Clerk staff that his request would have to be taken under consideration during the hearing of a related agenda item late in the meeting.

Hannah Royce
Hannah Royce, March 2022. (file photo, Okla City Free Press)

The group swiftly elected Royce as Chair and Elkins-Baker as Vice-Chair.

The subcommittee’s meeting was the longest of the day. Much discussion focused on the functions and purpose of the group.

All present members of the committee agreed that public trust and public input were paramount for the group to hear. Steele referred to their duty to “validate” input, even while not agreeing to it, emphasizing that the public deserves to be truly heard in their concerns and input.

Engelke spoke to building and enhancing relationships between the Jail leadership and community organizations such as TEEM, the Diversion Hub, and Calm Waters, adding that those relationships should be beneficial to both parties.

All present members agreed that public trust was the most crucial part of moving forward.

The subcommittee, without Steele voting, as he was not yet a verified member of the group, voted to adopt a slate of “purposes.”

  • Identify the barriers preventing Jail detainees and families from accessing services
  • Identify the greatest area of support needed for detainees and what potential community relationships could meet those needs
  • Identify policy to determine what community relationships need to be enhanced
  • Be open and validating to community input.

The group then turned to a discussion of adding non-CAB members. It was agreed that a member of the community relations team of the Jail be added, and Jail Public Information Officer Mark Opgrande was brought up as a suggestion.

Jail
Kris Steel from the second jail listening session Oct. 7, 2021. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Steele mentioned that local advocate Derwin Romani asked to be included. Romani is often seen and heard at meetings of the Jail Trust, having spent time incarcerated at the Jail in the past and now playing a role in the community as a peer support specialist and community advocate. Romani was unanimously elected to join the group along with Steel. A third member is yet to be agreed upon, though Opgrande will be asked for his participation.

Steele read aloud an email explaining that some CAB members’ desire to have current detainees included in the advisory subcommittees, that CAB Counsel has said it would be too legally difficult to manage.

That subcommittee will meet monthly on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 10:45 a.m., with the next meeting occurring on June 22.

Policy & Procedures

The largest subcommittee as of yet, is the Policy & Procedures Subcommittee with six CAB members volunteering to join initially. Ryan Haynie, Pastor Douglas, Elkins-Baker, Royce, and Steven Buck were all present. NesSmith again was absent for the meeting.

This subcommittee swiftly nominated and elected Buck as Chair and Douglas as Vice-Chair.

In discussion of time and date of the subsequent meeting, Haynie quickly posited that their meetings should be quarterly instead of monthly, and Douglas agreed. Buck asked if the body would prefer perhaps to schedule monthly meetings and back off of that frequency in due time. Haynie and Douglas dismissed the idea.

Meetings of the group will be quarterly, with the next meeting being in late August.

When time came to discuss adding members, Haynie challenged his fellow subcommittee members on why voting members should be added at all. The other members explained that inviting the voices of people who have experienced incarceration and people who work in incarcerating their peers would provide. Buck praised the group for their desire to include lived experience in the discussions of the subcommittee.

Ultimately the group voted to spend the three months before their next meeting doing due diligence and discussing potential appointees to the subcommittee.

Operations

All three members of the Operations Subcommittee were present for their first meeting, those members being Haynie, Douglas, and Buck.

The group selected Haynie as Chair and Douglas as Vice-Chair.

Again, Haynie recommended a quarterly meeting schedule and Douglas agreed, so the next meeting will be in late August.

As for the purpose and function of the subcommittee, Haynie recommended that the members tour the Jail in order to see what operations are like “on the ground,” in addition to examining policy and consulting Jail CEO Greg Williams.

During discussion of additional members, Haynie said that since their body only “advises” another body, meaning the Jail Trust, adding members only added to bureaucracy. Douglas agreed.

The body chose, for now, to only invite experts with first hand experience to their meetings to speak in an advisory or informative role.

Free Press will continue to follow the progress of these subcommittees, along with the CAB, and, as always, the Jail Trust.


Last Updated May 25, 2022, 6:46 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor