Oklahoma County Jail Leaders Discuss Possible Involvement From Department Of Justice

On Thursday morning, the Criminal Justice Authority, also known as the Jail Trust, held a special meeting in which trustees immediately went into executive session, where cameras were not allowed.

Thursday, January 18th 2024, 6:50 pm

By: News 9, Chris Yu


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The U.S. Department of Justice could be looking into the Oklahoma County Detention Center once again.

On Thursday morning, the Criminal Justice Authority, also known as the Jail Trust, held a special meeting in which trustees immediately went into executive session, where cameras were not allowed.

The meeting agenda said it was a confidential discussion "concerning a pending investigation, claim or action by the United States Department of Justice regarding conditions at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, and where on the advice of its attorney, the board has determined that disclosure will seriously impair the ability of the public body to process the claim or conduct a pending investigation, litigation, or proceeding in the public interest."

After nearly an hour, the executive session ended and the meeting was adjourned without further comment from the trustees.

One of the members of the Jail Trust is County Commissioner Myles Davidson. News 9 went to his office for comment, but a staff member said he was not there. News 9 left contact information, but had not heard back as of Thursday evening.

News 9 also reached out to the District Attorney's Office. But a spokesperson said they cannot comment on executive session matters.

Furthermore, News 9 requested more info from the Department of Justice. But DOJ had not sent a response as of Thursday evening.

Spokespeople for the jail and the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office said they didn't have additional details either.

This isn't the first time the Department of Justice has been linked to the Oklahoma County Detention Center. DOJ toured the facility several times in the past. In a report from 2008, DOJ said the facility was inadequate.

"Having completed the fact-finding portion of our investigation, we conclude that certain conditions at the Jail violate the constitutional rights of detainees confined there," the DOJ report said. "As detailed below, we find that the Jail fails to provide for detainees': (1) reasonable protection from harm; (2) constitutionally-required mental health care services; (3) adequate housing, sanitation, and environmental protections; and (4) protection from serious fire-safety risks."

The sheriff at that time, John Whetsel, said he implemented changes to address those concerns.

DOJ representatives spent a few days touring the jail again in 2022. But it was unclear if they expressed any concerns. When News 9 asked a jail spokesperson what came out of that visit, he said he wasn't a part of those meetings.

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