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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City is potentially one step closer to putting the problem-plagued Oklahoma County Detention Center in its past. The Criminal Justice Advisory Council, a group made up of officials from around the community, believes the current jail is beyond repair and has made formal recommendations for a brand new jail.

CJAC officially recommended a brand new $300 million dollar facility to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (the Jail Trust) and the Oklahoma County Commissioners Thursday. The two entities will decide how they feel on the recommendations, and ultimately the county commissioners will vote on them.

CJAC Executive Director Timothy Tardibono said he’s excited.

“All those reports that continue to plague the current facility will be fixed in a new facility,” he said. “The new, modern, better jail will also solve all the department of justice issues and all of the state health department issues because it will be built to American Correctional Association standards.”

CJAC made five recommendations which were voted on unanimously Thursday.

The first said “a better, new facility is absolutely necessary and should be designed and built to meet American Correctional Association standards. The new facility should be at a different location than the current Detention Center.”

The second recommendation asserts the facility “should include funding through a vote of Oklahoma County voters to replace expiring bonds at their current level without raising taxes.”

Thirdly, “the better, new facility should utilize no more than 950 housing units which could house about 1800 people.”

Fourth, “It is imperative that CJAC and CJAC’s partners in law enforcement, the legal system, service providers and community leaders continue the hard and monumental work of reforming the justice system to promote fair and effective solutions for treatment and diversion so overcrowding does not occur again. The reform work must succeed to meet best practices of maintaining a 15% vacancy rate in the future facility.”

And the fifth recommendation is that “a Site Selection Committee and a Construction Oversight Taskforce should be appointed to ensure the process to build a better, new facility at a different location is transparent and accountable in due diligence efforts.

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Oklahoma County Detention Center

Tardibono said the payment proposal for the new jail is a mix of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and various property taxes. He said that taxpayers won’t have to pay any new taxes. Rather, property taxes they’re already paying would be extended.

“We’re really excited because for the first time in 30 years, the taxpayer is going to have a solution to this jail problem and they’re not going to see a sales tax increase or property tax increase and that’s never been a conversation we’ve had before and we think it’s something that the taxpayer will be really interested in,” he said.

Not all are on board with the recommendations, like the People’s Council for Justice Reform.

“The reason we don’t want a new jail is we don’t want the same management in a new facility, that is the issue,” said member Sean Cummings.

Member Cherisse Baker agreed.

“If we end up spending $300 million on a new jail, it’s not going to fix the administration,” she said. “It’s not going to fix the staff.”

Tardibono believes a new facility will be better run because it doesn’t have same mechanical and design flaws as the current jail, and in turn, management will feel happier and safer and the new jail could attract better management with overall better infrastructure and morale.

“We appreciate the public’s input on wanting to renovate this building, but we don’t think the community as a whole supports staying in this beleaguered building that has had decades of problems,” he concluded.

If the county commissioners approve of this current recommendation in the coming weeks, construction for the new jail would begin in 2024 and the jail would open in 2026.