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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — A new Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) for the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) held their second meeting on Wednesday morning.

The new Board consists of nine appointees, each selected by a sitting member of the Jail Trust.

Kris Steele, familiar to many as a former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and current director of TEEM (The Employment and Education Ministry), was chosen as Chairman for the CAB.

Other members are June Elkins-Baker, Rev. Ray Douglas, Hannah Royce, Rev Derrick Scobey, Steven Buck, Leslie NesSmith, Ryan Hanie, and Erin Engelke.

Subcommittee Details

At Wednesday’s meeting, the business at hand was to set up several subcommittees.

In previous weeks, it was believed that the subcommittees would be made up of no more than four members of the CAB in order to not be subject to the Open Meetings Act.

On Wednesday, Steele explained that it was a misunderstanding of facts that led them to that belief. In fact, the subcommittees will be subject to Open Meetings laws, Steele explained.

With that being the case, there are no limits on the number of CAB members for each subcommittee. There are questions, however, about inviting members of the public to participate in those subcommittees.

For now, the subcommittees will move forward without non-CAB members, but the public will be invited to attend meetings and participate in feedback through that avenue.

Categories

The CAB endeavored to establish four subcommittees, each to address a facet of the work of the Jail Trust.

First to be established was a Retention and Recruitment of Staff subcommittee. At the monthly meetings of the Jail Trust, Trust CEO Greg Williams gives an operations report, and each month he says that staffing is a constant challenge. Members of this subcommittee will try to find ways to increase and maintain appropriate staffing levels.

The second subcommittee was labeled “Relationships Between OCCJA and the Oklahoma County Community.” The purpose of that group will be to improve the relationship of the Jail Trust with the broader community. The usefulness of the subcommittee is, of course, yet to be seen, but the Trust has struggled to maintain a good relationship with the public over the course of their operation of the Jail. With the fate of a new jail project being at the hands of voters in June, those relationships will need some attention in order to pass the bonds necessary to fund the new building.

Third was the Operations of the OCDC (Jail) Subcommittee. This group will focus on improvements in the daily operations of the physical Jail. Jail operations are an increasing concern of the Trustees and the public. So far, the Jail has already seen six deaths in 2022.

The final subcommittee is tasked with oversight of the Policies and Procedures of the Jail. This specific subcommittee gained the most members of the four established on Wednesday. At least six members of the CAB volunteered and were accepted into that group. The subcommittee will obviously provide oversight and recommendations regarding day to day policy in operating the Jail.

Next Steps

The subcommittees now being established, will have to find scheduling with the County Clerk, as Clerk’s officers will staff and record the minutes of the meetings of each group. No immediate timeline was provided, though Counsel for the CAB and Steele expressed that subcommittee members will receive emails to establish meeting times.

When each subcommittee meets, a chair and vice-chair will need to be elected for the sake of order and efficiency.

The next meeting of the CAB will be on Wednesday, May 11 at 9:00 a.m.


Last Updated April 13, 2022, 12:03 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor