After getting a scathing report from the Department of Justice four years ago, the Oklahoma County Jail is now being recognized as a nationally accredited facility.
The National Accreditation by the American Correctional Association is for how the jail operates, not for the building itself. The jail still needs a lot of changes to make the Department of Justice happy.
On Tuesday, News 9 got a look at some of the improvements made at the jail that helped make it safer for inmates and staff.
From the master control area, workers are able to monitor what is happening in every part of the Oklahoma County jail and communicate with both inmates and jailers.
Much of the jail has indirect supervision, which has been criticized by the Department of Justice.
But the jail has made improvements, including adding 60 more staff members, having computerized site checks, and creating an area where direct supervision can occur.
It's these improvements that led the jail's operational staff to receive this national accreditation from the American Correctional Association.
"It took a tremendous amount of effort and teamwork by our staff," said Sheriff Whetsel. "The road to ACA accreditation is not an easy process. There are audits, mountains of documentation, facility tours, and hearings. We passed them all with flying colors."
The old gym now houses trustees. Though it puts inmates and jailers in close contact, it is said to create a safer, more humane environment. However, it's one that is closely monitored with overhead cameras.
Many say a better building is what is really needed.
The national accreditation for the operations side will last three years. The jail is still trying to get in compliance with the other recommendations set forth by the Department of Justice.
This accreditation makes the Oklahoma County Jail one of just two jails in the entire state of Oklahoma that is actually accredited. It is also the first time in the agency's history for that to happen.