Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority Unanimously Votes For New Detention Facility

Monday, November 29th 2021, 9:20 pm


Out with the old, in with the new: That's the recommendation from the Oklahoma County Jail Trust about the current detention center.

The public was split as more than five people stepped up for public comment. The trustees, however, were not.

"At the end of the day, you can't fix 13 stories," said Trustee and County Commissioner Kevin Calvey.

The trust voted unanimously in favor of a new jail after a presentation laying out the options for a new facility. Amenities a part of the plan included modern intake, booking areas and space for diversion programs and partners.

Three different layout possibilities for a new facility were introduced with the ability to hold 1,800 beds.

The options included a plan to either build on the current site or a new location within 10 minutes of downtown Oklahoma City.

"The question is would it be a one story, one level or second level," Criminal Justice Advisory Council executive director Timothy Tardibono said. "So that determines what size. Will it be 45 acres we need or 25 acres."

All those decisions could be determined at a later date.

"This is not only a unique opportunity, I would say, once in a lifetime opportunity with the funding sources that our available now," Calvey said.

The CJAC, who helped bring these potential plans to the trust, have suggested using American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds in addition to extending existing bonds.

"If the County Commissioners want to go out to the voters, it's up to them to put this bond on the election for the voters to consider," Tardibono said.

Even with Monday's vote, most agreed for a new jail to be successful it would take continued reform efforts with an emphasis on diversion and mental health.

"For your facility to have all of those resources available so we can get somebody help for mental health (and) so we can get somebody help for substance abuse” Oklahoma County sheriff Tommie Johnson said. “I just think that's a step in the right direction. Something that we so desperately need."