Oklahoma County Jail Safety Concerns

Thursday, December 11th 2014, 9:24 pm
By: News 9

There are new concerns about the safety of the Oklahoma County Jail.

It's falling apart.

The Oklahoma County Commissioner says things are getting worse and the jail is beyond repair.

Commissioner Ray Vaughn says right now almost daily repairs to the crumbling jail is straining the county's general operating fund.

“They're in a very poor condition,” said Commissioner Ray Vaughn.

It's been called one of the most poorly designed jails in the country.

The 13-floor facility makes moving, guarding and even caring for inmates extremely difficult, especially when there are only three working elevators.

“The jail has been a problem since the day it opened actually,” said Vaughn.

There's also a growing concern for the safety of jail employees.

More than 2,400 hundred inmates are housed in a facility built 23 years ago and it's designed to house just 1,200.

“It's our responsibility to make sure that the facility is operational so that the sheriff can do his job,” said Vaugh.

Vaughn has done a number of inspections at the jail since he took office in 2007, and recently he says he's been doing more than just his annual walkthroughs.

“I was there a couple of weeks ago when we had a pipe burst on the second floor,” said Vaughn.

More than 21-gallons of water flooded the first floor, in fact trash cans are still out catching what's left.

The commissioner made a formal visit to the dilapidated prison Wednesday.

“We have porta potties sitting out back of the jail that the detention officers have to use because the sewer lines don't function,” said Vaughn.

That sewer line in the basement collapsed over the summer, and as a result the kitchen and washing facilities were shut down.

That cost the county $1.2 million to repair, and renovations remain constant.

“Really, the only viable alternative is to build something new. It makes no sense to go in and spend the kind of money it would take to rehab that building,” said Vaughn.

There is a plan for a new jail. The commissioner says they are looking at a number of funding options, including a bond issue.