On Thursday, a multicounty grand jury recommended the Oklahoma County Detention Center be returned to the control of the county sheriff. Now, a justice reform advocacy group is agreeing with that recommendation, and even asserting that it doesn’t go far enough.
“We feel that this is a victory, but it is not the final victory,” said Mark Faulk of the People’s Council for Justice Reform.
The group held a press conference at the Oklahoma County Jail Friday afternoon, a day after a multicounty grand jury released its report on the jail and the trust that oversees it, officially known as the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority.
“We believe that the grand jury report is not the final step,” Faulk continued.
The report highlighted that since the Jail Trust took control of the jail from the Oklahoma County Sheriff in July 2020, 37 inmates have died, saying, “inadequate staffing, funding, surveillance, and training, coupled with poor law enforcement protocols, led to the significant loss of life within the jail.”
Inmate Eddie Garcia was one of those, dying of a fentanyl overdose in May 2022. His sister calling the death unjust.
“We’re questioning how did it get in there or where did he get it from?” Naila Garcia asked of the drugs. “Also, where were the site techs. He probably could have been saved if the site checks were done every 30 minutes. But from what we hear, those site checks were really never done on time. So that’s just unfortunate and we lost him, somewhere where he’s supposed to be protected.”
The grand jury ultimately recommended the Jail Trust self-terminate and give control back to the sheriff, who they believe can at least be held accountable through the election process.
“The next step needs to be the dissolution of the jail trust immediately,” Faulk said. “We have been calling for that really since the day that [the Jail Trust] took over.”
The People’s Council demanded that along with that, there should be criminal indictments of all governmental officials and non-governmental individuals involved in the jail’s negligent and fraudulent activity.
“We demand criminal charges,” said Sara Bana. “The ongoing lawlessness, the total qualified immunity which has protected these trustees, can no longer be normalized. There are many crimes that have been committed. There is plenty of evidence. So, what we need is for the attorney general, who has the authority and the power to hold these folks accountable, to send a message that the culture of political corruption in Oklahoma County has reached the end of its era.”
KFOR reached out to the Jail Trust, jail CEO, and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, and all of them say they look forward to reviewing the grand jury’s report.