OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory (CJAC) is searching for a consultant to determine what repairs and reforms are needed in the Oklahoma County Detention Center and make recommendations for current and future jail facilities.
The CJAC will hold a meeting on May 12 for potential consultants to make bids for the job. Solicitations are due by 4 p.m. on May 26. The selection committee is expected to announce the chosen consultant during a June 17 CJAC meeting, according to a CJAC news release.
“We are looking for a consultant who can offer lasting solutions to long-term challenges, and part of that is gathering more community input,” said Timothy Tardibono, CJAC’s executive director. “Transparency and looking at our situation through many different lenses are key values in moving forward as a community.”
The CJAC has a $125,000 budget that the consultant can work within. Potentials consultants are to bid within that budget.
“We don’t have to go by the lowest bidder requirement,” Tardibono told KFOR. “We don’t have to do that. We will be looking for the best proposal within the budgeted amount.”
The consultant’s goals were listed by the CJAC as follows:
A. analysis of existing facility problems including funding and renovation possibilities,
B. analysis of best practices for detention facilities of similar size for similarly-situated counties,
C. analysis of facility configuration options to include new bed capacity and possible alternative locations,
D. options for funding including sales tax revenue for future maintenance costs and staff salaries/benefits, as well as local, state, or federal funding available for new facilities and/or renovations of the current facility,
E. analysis of staffing and costs associated with each recommendation, and
F. proposed implementation plan and timeline for any recommendations.
The Detention Center has had several issues over the years and those issues came to a head on March 27 when inmates held a detention officer hostage using a makeshift blade, stabbing him in the process.
Inmates used the detention officer’s smart phone during the hostage crisis to post a live video on his Facebook page.
In the video, an inmate looked at the camera and said that they were doing what had to be done because they had no food and could not take showers at the jail. Another inmate is then seen standing over the crouched detention officer with his hand on the back of the officer’s neck, berating him.
The inmate holding the phone could be heard saying that the water in the jail did not work and the toilets were backed up.
The inmate who allegedly held a blade on the detention officer was shot and killed by Oklahoma City police. The detention officer was treated at a hospital.
In the aftermath of the hostage crisis, officials from the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, which runs the Detention Center, and other officials have held public meetings about the issues at the jail.
Jail officials had a crew come in to repair water pressure problems. Water was shut off at the jail for several hours as the crew worked. Officials said the water pressure issues were repaired.
Consultants have been brought in to review jail problems in the past, but the planned review of jail facilities “has the potential to address several of the detention center’s original issues, including analysis of the facility’s bed capacity and recommended solutions,” the news release states.
Jail capacity is currently not as high as it has been in the past, which will enable the consultant to make recommendations based on current data and “address the problems in a deeper way than was possible with the jail’s previous population at double its capacity or higher,” the news release states.
“Historically the jail population has been too high – upwards of 2,500 – to address the root problems,” Tardibono said. “This is the first time we have been able to do this type of study with a jail population within range of the actual capacity the jail was built for, so we are looking forward to seeing recommendations built on our progress so far.”
CJAC officials said it is ideal that recommendations offer an architectural design that promotes public safety as well as better treatment and recovery options.
The consultant could possibly recommend construction of an entirely new jail, Tardibono said.
The CJAC prioritized public engagement as a requirement of the consultant and the resulting recommendations in their effort to promote transparency.
Tardibono said he wants to get past jail detainees, community members with loved ones in the jail and community organizations working toward safe diversion options involved in the process.
The effort to a hire a consultant for jail reform recommendations is an independent effort on the part of the CJAC. The Jail Trust is not participating.
“This was our initiative, but we recognize this will be helpful to them in their decision-making process,” Tardibono said.
The CJAC’s jail consultant solicitation announcement is featured below, in full: