Oklahoma County Commissioners to consider new jail trust

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OKLAHOMA  CITY - New funding decisions with the Oklahoma County Jail may be a reality if a new jail trust is passed.

“We can avoid the dysfunction that for years and years and years has been going on in the county,” Oklahoma County Public Defender Bob Ravitz said.

After years of discussing funding issues with the Oklahoma County Jail, some community members are saying enough is enough.

“The notion is that we are recommending the formation of a jail trust,” Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council Chairperson Clay Bennett said.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council voted 'yes' to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners to pass a Jail Trust Indenture.

“I look forward to discussing this working draft with my fellow commissioners in an open meeting with the Board of County Commissioners going forward here,” County Commissioner Kevin Calvey said.

Previously, Sheriff P.D. Taylor sat down with News 4 to discuss funding issues at the jail.

Everything from needing new locks on jail cells to keep inmates from escaping, to inability to keep detention officers on staff, due to noncompetitive salaries.

"The best way to bring additional funding in is a countywide sales tax,” Taylor said.

“How come the sheriff is losing so many people? Are they not being paid enough? What is the deal? These are things that a public trust can flush out,” Ravitz said.

Currently the sheriff’s office’s funding decisions are made by the budget board, which includes all eight county elected officials.

The jail trust would consist of a body of people who make decisions on just the finances of the jail.

“What it would do is it would separate funding for the jail from funding for other functions of the sheriff’s department,” Calvey said.

But the council did not recommend a specific trust document.

“Financial aspects of a public trust guarantee that there is accountability and that’s all I want, is accountability,” Ravitz said.

Now it’s up to the county commissioners to pass the jail trust. The commissioners hope to discuss it during their public meeting next Wednesday.

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