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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — In the monthly meeting of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust), trustees took little action, changing nothing about the current conditions of the Oklahoma County Detention Center (Jail), the largest and most complicated asset owned by the County.

The Trust, appointed by the County Commissioners at the direction of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC), heard the standard monthly report of the Trust CEO and Jail Chief Administrator Greg Williams before approving a minor worker’s compensation insurance plan.

The Trust also heard from community members who do not want a new jail facility built in Oklahoma County.

Marty Peercy reports Local government

CEO Report

The report of Jail CEO Greg Williams was similar to each monthly report.

Williams cited the two deaths that occurred in the Jail during the month of March, saying only that there was no evidence of foul play involved.

No other discussion of deaths in the jail occurred during this month’s meeting of the trust.

At the current pace, the Jail could see as many as 24 deaths in 2022.

For reference, Riker’s Island in New York City has a daily population of approximately 10,000 people, as opposed to Oklahoma County Jail’s approximately 1,700. Last year 13 died in Oklahoma County, whereas only 16 died at Riker’s.

Williams said the COVID situation in the jail is currently under control with no employees out for the deadly pandemic that has killed 13,000 Oklahomans.

A new body scanner has been installed, and may be running as soon as next week, provided the Department of Environmental Quality approves.

In March, the average population of the Jail was approximately 1,675, and the average number of employees remained at 326.

Williams pointed out that 4 licensed professional counselors and one psychiatrist are on staff full time. The mental health wards of the Jail have 159 beds, 20 of which are for women detainees on a separate floor from the men’s mental health ward. There was no discussion about gender-nonconforming detainees.

Jail Bond

The Trust heard briefly from Jail Trust Counsel John Michael Williams about the County Commissioners’ earlier vote to approve and set a special election on June 28 to approve renewal of $260,000,000 in bonds.

This is our report on the commissioners’ meeting from earlier today:

There was no action to take on that issue, the Trust simply celebrated the act by the Commissioners.

Public Comment

As usual, the monthly meeting of the Trust began with public comment.

Among the four commenters, not one endorsed a new jail facility.

Each of the four people who spoke at Monday’s meeting reiterated that a new jail is not necessary in Oklahoma County, but rather efforts to divert people away from incarceration should be the priority of the Trust and the community.

One participant, activist and regular attendee of Jail Trust meetings, Mark Faulk, referenced one of the claims of CJAC’s consultants about the planned new facility. Consultants have said that the jail will have a higher capacity of approximately 1,800 detainees, which is larger than the currently over-crowded Jail.

Consultants and CJAC Executive Director Timothy Tardibono have claimed that the new facility would be kept 15% below capacity as a best operating practice.

Faulk called that claim “a bullshit lie.”

Few jails in America are, in fact, kept below capacity.

As usual, no comment was given in response to public comments, as the District Attorney has determined that it would violate the Open Meetings act.

The Jail Trust is scheduled to meet next on May 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Last Updated April 4, 2022, 4:43 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor