Justice Reform Advocates Pushing For Better Conditions At Oklahoma County Jail

Monday, September 20th 2021, 5:08 pm
By: Brittany Toolis


Advocates for justice reform listed off demands before the Oklahoma County Jail Trust during a meeting Monday.

They called for more humane conditions and compared the jail to a torture chamber. 

The advocates said the unsanitary conditions and overcrowded pods have a direct cause of nearly a dozen inmate deaths so far this year. 

“At least ten indigent Oklahomans have died in chains under the rein of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust this year alone,” said co-founder of End Violence Everywhere, Sara Bana. 

Their names were read out loud before the jail trustees walked into Monday's meeting.

Advocates called on the trustees to fix what they said are human rights violations.

The way the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council addressed the issue also came under attack. 

CJAC hired a consultant to look over the jail. CJAC is funded by a number of Oklahoma municipalities. CJAC said they paid for the consultant through funds set aside in previous years. 

The consultant will recommend one of three actions, build a new jail, renovate the current one, or build an annex with new medical and intake facilities. 

 CJAC said each option would address overcrowding and poor conditions.

CARES Act money could be used in those projects, but how much each would cost is not yet known, per CJAC. 

The jail capacity sits at around 1,200. right now there's over 1,600 people in custody.

“Majority Of these Oklahomans are simply trapped inside the illegal and overcrowded county jail because they are poor and can’t afford their bail or bond,” said Bana. “Ending cash bail for all nonviolent offenders would have an opportunity to reduce the jails population by three to 500 souls and people immediately.”

CJAC said while 1,600 is over capacity, it is down from a few years ago where over 2,500 people were housed. Any bail reform would also have to go through the state legislature.