Advocates speak about issues in the Oklahoma County Jail; jail leadership says they’ve made progress

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Advocates spoke about issues at the Oklahoma County Jail before Monday’s Jail Trust meeting. 

“What releases have not only shared but physically shown me are stories of racism, neglect, vast human right violations, death, and what can only be described as medieval torture,” advocate Tracy Maydol said. “I want to know why it is okay to spend half a million dollars on cameras when inmates do not have food, clean water, or basic sleeping necessities.”

The groups wants to see the inmate population reduced, an end to cash bail for non-violent offenders, and basic needs of inmates to be met. They also want the Jail Trust to be dissolved.

“They just want to waste our taxpayers’ money and human lives,” Chris Johnston said. “They are entities that only care about money and nothing else. They should not be trusted and should be dissolved immediately.”

The group is also speaking against $150 million dollars on a new jail, arguing the Jail Trust should fix the current problems.

“Our failing county jail is not the crisis that can be turned into a new profit frontier for privatizing legalized 21st century forms of slavery,” advocate Sara Bana said. “The time for mass liberation is now. We will not and cannot prioritize funding, construction of another carceral facility in the American heartland over investing in liberation and justice.”

At the Jail Trust meeting, Jail Administrator Greg Williams detailed the jail’s efforts to increase staff, improve infrastructure, and take COVID precautions.

“I’ve been with the Trust and been in the jail for about a year and I’ve seen nothing but good things happen during that year. There are a lot of issues, but I think we’ve resolved issues that have been going for decades,” Williams said. “If you look at what the Trust has been able to do over the last year compared to what’s been done over the last 30 years, I think it’s a significant difference in what’s going on right now.”

One trust member said this in response to the advocates.

“I understand their frustrations, and I understand when you’re not given every piece of a puzzle, it just looks like something is very wrong,” trustee Frances Ekwerekwu said. “Things are wrong here with the jail, but there are people and plans of action in place where we’re trying to address some of the things they’re very frustrated with.”

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