The Oklahoma County Jail Trust agreed to return about $25 million to the county that won’t be used for the jail. But that won’t stop a lawsuit that was filed Monday.
Oklahoma County commissioners sparked some controversy back in August when they vowed to spend $40 million in federal CARES Act money on upgrades at the detention center.
Monday the jail trust voted to send $25 million of that back to the county. But the lawsuit filed against the trust and its members is still going forward.
“That is an American thing and a right for every human being. So, people spoke monotonely [sic] when they told me I have no right to that. I took my gas money, and I gave it to my rent man…so that I couldn’t be embarrassed,” said Steven Butler, a plaintiff of the lawsuit.
Just eight days after Butler opened his restaurant on Southeast 44th Street, he was forced to close down because of COVID. Butler is one of three people suing the county. They said the jail trust was illegally set up without a vote of the people so all CARES money must be returned.
“We have county commissioners who say, no, we’re going to take away your right to vote on creating a jail trust. So, they violated the law to take away our constitutional right,” said Mark Faulk who is also one of the plaintiffs. “To take that money that is needed for people who are seriously hurting and seriously harmed by a pandemic, and to spend it to remodel the lobby at the jail.”
County Commissioner Kevin Calvey, who abstained from the vote, is brushing off the suit.
“This is just a frivolous lawsuit from a group of extremists who have been on the losing side of a political issue. These are the same extremists who have called for defunding the police, abolishing the jail and abolishing all immigration enforcement,” said Calvey.
“They showed themselves to be common criminals. And I hope they are treated as such,” added Faulk.