Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 2021-10-21 21:49:46 –
Oklahoma City (Free press) — The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAC) unanimously voted on Thursday, focusing on researching new prison facilities to narrow options before recommending them to prison trusts later.
The vote took place after a presentation from FSB and HOK consultants updating details on Oklahoma County Detention Center (Prison) facility improvement options.
After the presentation, CJAC members heard comments from several local activists during public comment time.
Marty Piercy reports local government
Since June, FSB and HOK consultants have been researching options for improving prison facilities in Oklahoma County.
Three options were initially identified to help include the scope of the survey. CJAC members and facility subcommittee members asked consultants to provide information to explain the costs and benefits of these three options.
- The first option was to build a completely new facility that the group voted for in a process that included yet another CJAC meeting before the group made detailed recommendations to the prison trust.
- The second option considered was to remodel the prison to raise it to modern and humane standards.
- The third option, a hybrid, was to build a new low-rise annex adjacent to the existing prison tower.
After the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Department (Prison Trust) took over control of the prison from former sheriff PD Taylor, several agencies have been trying to reduce the prison population. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, most law enforcement agencies sending detainees to prison adopted new citation and release policies.
At one point, the prison population was less than 1,400. The current population of prisons is close to 1,800.
Arrests in the county’s community, especially in Oklahoma City, are a factor in the large population of prisons. However, another less obvious factor in the large population is related to the Correctional Bureau (DOC).
According to the law, the DOC does not need to detain a detainee immediately after a sentence unless there is a shortage of beds in the prison facility. A few years ago, the Ministry of Health classified prisons originally built for 1,200 people as having a “safe” capacity for 2,890 detainees.
That’s not an acceptable number for everyone, but it does mean that the DOC is often awaiting the transfer of more than 100 convicted detainees.
The debate over building a brand new 1,800-bed facility included the reality that land was likely to have to be acquired.
However, it is estimated that new facilities will require less staff, as direct monitoring in current tower configurations is almost impossible without far more staff.
The plan includes building a new facility within 10 minutes of the courthouse.
This option is currently estimated to have the highest initial cost of $ 300 million. However, it has the lowest operating costs over the estimated 25-year life of the new facility due to the low staff required for proper supervision.
One option explained by the consultant but not selected was to build a new annex and remodel the existing prison tower. The new annex has three levels.
The annex offers a new medical / mental health clinic with an additional 150 beds, an enhanced and updated intake / reservation area with more streamlined practice, and 400 beds.
Prison health provider TurnKey Health has informed members of the organization that they have informed the consultant that they will be reimbursed $ 1 million in annual membership fees if new space is given.
Under this option, prison tower modifications will accommodate moderate and maximum security detainees in a single bed (equivalent to approximately 1,200 beds). Security offices will be replaced by direct surveillance desks, refurbishment elevators, fire protection, physical and electronic security systems. The tower’s floor-level visit area will be refurbished to serve as an outdoor recreation space.
The central question about the construction of new prison facilities is how to fund such projects.
The first proposal to fund a new prison is to use all of the $ 154 million American Reconstruction Planning Act (ARPA) Relief Fund. While this is legally permitted, many communities are already enthusiastic about the idea of spending more relief money for imprisonment, not to improve the lives of the people of Oklahoma County.
Additional funding can be found using the $ 95 million General Debt Limited Tax Bond (GOLT), the $ 48 million Profit Forecast Bond, and the $ 95 million Lease Purchase Revenue Bond.
Dan Strogan, Managing Director of the Homeless Alliance, a member of the Facilities Subcommittee, said he didn’t think existing prisons could be repaired, and then gave him the best option to build a new facility. I resolved to come up with it.
Several local activists who frequently attend and comment on meetings were waiting for public comments.
Local restaurant owner Sean Cummings said then district attorney Bob Macy said, “If you build it, I’ll fill it,” before the current prison was built. rice field. Cummings said that philosophy has dominated the community since then.
Cummings and other activists recently called for the dissolution of the prison trust and the return of prison control to the sheriff’s office.
Others continued to argue that new approaches other than building new prisons should be best considered to care for those in need who have been arrested.
Meanwhile, local activist Jess Eddie was on the podium, dissenting and showing some sort of division within the loose affiliation of those who have been working on prison trusts over the past year.
Eddie said he was hesitant to engage with some of these activists because of disagreements about what was best for those currently in prison and those who would have to be there in the future. ..
“Prison trusts are better than sheriffs who say they don’t think there is systematic racism in the police.”
He also refuses to go with DA David Prater in Oklahoma County and Ray Elliott, the presiding judge, with some Own Recognizance (OR) bonds and certain types of judicial transactions, so it should be considered in future elections. He criticized him for thinking it was a problem.
The next CJAC meeting will take place on November 18th at 3:00 pm.
Last updated: October 21, 2021 8:49 pm Brett Dickerson-Editor
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