OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Progress was made in the proposed plans to fix the problem-plagued Oklahoma County Detention Center. The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC), endorsed a consultation plan from FSB Architects + Engineers to build a new jail on Thursday. They plan to recommend the plan to the county jail trust and county commissioners next month.
From riots and escapees, to eleven inmate deaths in 2021 alone, the jail’s problems have been a sore spot for Oklahoma County for more than a decade. The $52 million dollar facility is funded by a temporary sales tax and has been open since 1991.
FSB proposed two options to CJAC. The first was to renovate the current facility while also building an annex next to it. CJAC went with the second option, which was to build a brand new $297.2 million facility.
The proposal is to pay for the new facility using a mix of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and various property taxes.
“For the first time in 30 years, we’re talking about being able to give the citizens and the tax payers a better building without a tax increase, either a sales tax or a property tax, and that’s a proposition we’ve never had before,” said Timothy Tardibono, executive director of CJAC explained.
The new proposed facility promises to have substantially more mental health treatment and space for support programs. The main proposed model is for a capacity of 1,800 inmates, but other models account for anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 inmates.
Consultants will continue to finalize plans for CJAC to vote on in November. CJAC will then present their voted-on recommendation to the county jail trust and county commissioners.
“When it really comes down to it, we’re trying to build a better jail, we’re trying to build a more humane jail, we’re trying to build a more cost effective jail and really, a new facility is where we hit those three all together,” said John Semtner, a consultant with FSB.
The exact size of the proposed jail and the precise funding plan are still to be determined, but if the current plan of 1,800 inmate capacity goes through as is, construction would begin in 2024 and the jail would open in 2026.