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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority or Jail Trust will meet Monday, November 29 to receive a detailed set of recommendations to build a new jail on a new site within ten minutes of downtown.

The same study group that recommended County Commissioners establish the Jail Trust in the first place, the Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC), has been studying possible avenues of action to recommend to the trust.

Recommendation for action

After nearly a year of study and two public meetings conducted by the FSB architectural firm, CJAC is recommending that the Jail Trust and Oklahoma County build a new single-level detention center facility on a new 45-acre site within ten minutes of downtown.

This is the recommendation approved at the last CJAC meeting on November 18 that has been sent to the trust:

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The facilities subcommittee of CJAC chaired by Dan Straughan and Sue Ann Arnall, looked at the initial build costs plus ongoing operational costs of three different options (included in the slide deck below.)

They then compared those estimated initial and ongoing costs plus any operational savings that could be used for additional staffing. The current staffing situation in the Jail continues to be an ongoing problem that is exacerbated by the 13-story design of the current facility.

Their recommendation was to go with the new facility and new site so that the multiple floors could be eliminated, and new purpose-built medical and mental health sections could be incorporated. At present, the 13-story facility has at least one elevator broken down at any given time and had no medical or mental health facilities when it opened.

The details of why the new facility and new site were presented to CJAC in this slide deck which is also one of the attachments for the Jail Trust meeting agenda Monday.

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Current problems

At the last CJAC meeting, the FSB consultants and facilities subcommittee acknowledged that there are current humanitarian issues that must also be addressed by jail administrators, CJAC, and the Jail Trust.

In one part of Dan Straughan’s report to CJAC, he acknowledged that the current jail must be made “less inhumane.”

He reported that their subcommittee took a detailed hours-long tour through the facility on November 17 and learned in detail about the current problems with the facility which still make it a miserable place for those who are incarcerated and those who work there.

Straughan pointed out that recent “infrastructure improvements” in the last 18 months have represented some progress.

He reported that the improvements include, “an entirely new plumbing system, which took their water bill from over $53,000 a month to under $9,000. A new HVAC system that allows fresh air to come into the jail and has germicidal UV lights in the HVAC system to mitigate viral transmission through the ductwork.”

Straughan also reported that the administration has continued to replace inoperable cell locks which protect detainees from other detainees as well as the employees of the jail.

Activists presented a copy of what seems to be the report from a visit May 18-20, 2021 and reported delivered to Jail Administrator Greg Williams on June 9. Since it was mentioned in CJAC in their last meeting without raising any questions about its authenticity it can be presumed to be a copy of the authentic report.

The report shows what various local and even national news organizations have reported over the last five years when it comes to physical problems with the near-medieval conditions of the Jail.

The report also reveals numerous problems with procedures that TV crews and visiting reporters may miss.

The following is a presumed copy of that report given to us by activists:

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As well, activists have circulated a report issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health Detention Program after a surprise visit to the Jail on October 22.

A Statement of Deficiencies was then issued on November 9. This copy was obtained by activists and given to Free Press.

No one on the Jail Trust or connected to CJAC has denied the authenticity of either of these documents.

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The Jail Trust will meet in Room 204 of the Oklahoma County Courthouse Annex at 1 p.m. Monday, November 29.


Last Updated November 28, 2021, 11:39 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor