Canadian County seeks new jail facility

Friday, June 27th 2008, 7:21 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

EL RENO, Okla. -- A new jail could be in the future for Canadian County if county officials can sell the idea to voters.

Besides a deteriorating building, Sheriff Lewis Hawkins has violations for overcrowding.

He says if the county doesn't build a new facility soon state jail inspectors will lay down the law.

"I believe that they will come down with some sort of administrative action against the Canadian County Jail, which is against the citizens of Canadian County in essence because if there are fines levied, that's coming out of the general fund," Hawkins said.

Voters recently rejected a sales tax increase to build a $24 million jail.

County Commissioner Don Young says it didn't pass because residents didn't know what they were voting for.

That's why he and the other county commissioners are putting together a seven member committee to address the jail issues.

"One of the county commissioners approached me and asked if I would serve and I told them I was willing to do that," Piedmont Chief of Police Jerry Keoster said.

Keoster relies on surrounding cities and the county because he doesn't have a jail.

"There are times that we get felony charges and we have people in custody that need to be in a jail," Keoster said.

Koester and other committee members will discuss jail plans, funding and ways to educate the public on the need for a new facility.

"If we can get these people on the committee to agree to one avenue, hopefully then we can get the citizens to look at it in a better perspective and light and get behind the building of a new county jail," Hawkins said.

The committee members include members of law enforcement, local city officials, a judge and county citizens.

A date has not been set for the committee's first meeting.