Oklahoma County Jail Trust Votes For New Jail Administrator

Monday, August 19th 2019, 6:43 pm
By: News 9

The hiring process will soon begin for the Oklahoma County Jail's new boss. 

After months of debate, the Jail Trust voted in favor of an administrator to take the sheriff's place as head of the facility, but there are still many unanswered questions about the job.

The new administrator position was approved with a vote of 6-2, with former police chief MT Berry and Sheriff PD Taylor being the outliers.

The meeting started out with more pleas from public defenders, recounting countless stories of negligence and poor living conditions under the sheriff's watch.

“I can tell you that I’ve had several clients commit suicide in our county jail,” said Public Defender Clay Curtis.

Juvenile Defender Kenda McIntosh said of one of her clients, “He has a seizure, falls off his bed. They call the guards. No one comes. He asks to see a doctor. They tell him, ‘you don’t have any money on your books.’ He’s in DHS custody. This is a child in the county jail.”

Sheriff Taylor defended his position for the last time, saying the next person in line will have a hard time doing a better job with the same resources.

I hear a lot of criticism with no solutions,” said the sheriff. “They don’t understand how we do what we do with the lack of funding that’s given us, so I speak against the motion.”

Ultimately, he was outnumbered, with other trustees pointing out the successes of administrator-led jails like Tulsa.

Ben Brown said, “All I have to do is just tour the two jails and see what happens there, and I think when anything needs to be changed it starts at the top.”

Moving forward, the sheriff will lose his $30.2 million budget for jail operations, and the trust could ask the county for more. The county budget office already approved $100,000 for the hiring process.

The trust will settle on a job description, qualifications and application timeline next month.

The sheriff now wants to make sure employee benefits stay the same. He will maintain control of the facility until January.

The next trust meeting is Sept. 9. All budget decisions for the county have to be finalized by Sept. 30.