Oklahoma County Commissioners Seek New Jail In Bond For Upcoming Election

Wednesday, June 22nd 2022, 8:39 am


With elections coming up next Tuesday, one issue has Oklahoma County commissioners asking voters for a new jail.

Voters will be looking at $260 million with this bond.

Passing it would bring in several improvements, including moving on from the current Oklahoma County Jail building.

The bond, if passed, would plan to build a new jail, a mental health facility and possibly an office space for the sheriff.

The current jail off of Shartel in Downtown officially opened in 1991. According to County Commissioner Brian Maughan, it was only supposed to have a shelf life of 25-30 years.

With a wide list of problems, including a growing list of inmate deaths and escapees, Maughan says the current jail’s 13 stories and lack of medical facilities make it difficult for staff to maneuver around the building.

With the special election just a week away, Maughan says the bond would not increase taxes and would instead renew a bond amount approved by voters in 2008.

"What happened in 2008 is voters approved a bond. This is just going to renew that bond amount," said Maughan. "The same rate that was issued 14 years ago, those bonds are now falling off. This would just continue at the same exact rate, not an increase but not a decrease."

Critics of the bond say it's not the building, but those in charge and the lack of mental health services are the problem.

Some critics say they wanted to see a mental health facility first before a brand new jail.

They believe a new health facility would empty hundreds of people out of this jail, making renovations possible instead.

If the bond were to pass, a citizen's advisory board would be created immediately.

It would oversee how the jail would be designed and run.