Oklahoma County Commissioners Vote In Favor Of Building A New Ja - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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Oklahoma County Commissioners Vote In Favor Of Building A New Jail

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Guards held hostage, inmate overcrowding, raw sewage, all problems at a jail that's just two decades old. Guards held hostage, inmate overcrowding, raw sewage, all problems at a jail that's just two decades old.
OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Oklahoma -

Guards held hostage, inmate overcrowding, raw sewage, all problems at a jail that's just two decades old.

It's falling apart but now there’s a big step toward building a new one.

Sheriff John Whetsel said a new jail would actually save taxpayers nearly $30 million over 10 years. Now, it's up to voters to decide on how to pay for it.

A new jail in Oklahoma County has been talked about for more than a decade, at least 13 years, according to Sheriff Whetsel.

Now, a proposal that has taken more than seven months to create by a special jail study committee is the most comprehensive set of recommendations yet. 

“It’s a difference between night and day, the system that’s being proposed versus the archaic system that we operate in today,” said Whetsel.  

And the Sheriff said this is a giant step forward toward finding and implementing a solution.

“It is a holistic approach to how we deal with crime in Oklahoma County,” said Whetsel.

The proposal lays out critical needs for a new detention center, which Whetsel said will be much more than just bricks and mortar.  

It has to be about the people that get booked into this facility or that get released back to the community,” said Whetsel.

Mental health services will be a critical key program in the new jail, and the jail layout itself will be drastically different.

Right now, there are only 1,200 housing about 2,300 inmates.

Several years ago we had some of our employees who were kidnapped, held hostage here within the building,” said Whetsel.

The inmates were able to hide behind blind spots!

The new jail will be no more than two stories, versus the current 14 with a lot more emphasis on direct supervision.

“It is much more cost effective to build a new building and take care of all the problems that this building has had from the day it was opened,” said Whetsel.

To pay for all this, one option calls for a one penny sales tax for five years, then it's cut in half once the jail is up and running.

If approved, the board of county commissioners will decide on a location.

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