Advocates share concern over Oklahoma County Jail grand jury investigation

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The executive director of Oklahoma County’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council is speaking out against District Attorney David Prater’s request for a grand jury investigation into the operations of the county jail and jail trust.

“The treat you like you’re an animal instead of like a human being, you know,” Tara Lozer told News 4 Wednesday.

Lozer contacted KFOR Wednesday morning, worried for her brother who’s inside the Oklahoma County Jail. He recently had knee surgery and is dealing with some serious complications.

“He told me his leg is black and purple from the knee down as a result of that knee and he said he’s been running a fever for 2 days now,” said Lozer. “He sent me a message this morning and he told me still no medical help.”

News 4 called officials at the jail. They sent a staff member to check on Lozer’s brother, got him up to the medical unit and they claim he never called for help.

Lozer is concerned he could lose his leg.

“It’s very possible, or his life,” she said.

Last week, a judge granted D.A. David Prater’s request for a grand jury investigation into how the jail is being operated. In his application, he cited “lethal uncorrected mismanagement”…“resulting in unhealthy jail living conditions.”

According to the application, criminal penalties are possible for members of the jail trust, which operates the jail, and jail administration.

Tim Tardibono, executive director for Oklahoma County’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, a task force aimed at improving the jail and criminal justice, spoke with KFOR on Wednesday, essentially calling the grand jury investigation a counterproductive move.

“It’s unfortunate and sad that the district attorney is not using his power to help the trust succeed and improve the level of care for detainees and people in the jail and instead, trying to derail the success that has already been done,” Tardibono said.

State Representative Jason Lowe, who’s a defense attorney and has been pushing for change at the jail, shared some similar thoughts.

“I don’t know where the district attorney is going with this as far as what he’s actually looking for and possibly bringing criminal charges against the jail trust members,” said Lowe. “I don’t think that’s constitutional. But I do want the jail to be rehabilitated as far as being refurbished, as far as being a livable space for inmates and also for detention officers as well.” 

“Even locked up, inmates deserve proper medical attention, you know. That’s what our taxes and things like that go toward, you know, to help pay for those things,” Lozer said.

News 4 contacted Prater for a comment, and he sent the following statement:

“My duty is not to the Trust. My duty is to those who I serve, including those incarcerated in the Oklahoma County jail. My duty is to ALL citizens.  I am hopeful that the citizens who will be performing their civic duty by serving on the Grand Jury will uncover why the culture inside the facility, under the Trust had resulted in more deaths and maltreatment of inmates than I  have ever seen.  All the Grand Jury is seeking is the truth. Why would Mr. Tardibono be critical of that?”

David Prater 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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