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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Monday afternoon, Oklahoma County’s jail trust approved a proposal for a nearly $300-million new jail.

“He even put on there, ‘take to the news, very important,’” Nicole Young told News 4.

She’s talking about a sealed envelope that was filled with bedbugs from inside her husband’s cell at the Oklahoma County Jail. He mailed it to her last week. 

envelope from inside the Oklahoma County Jail that contains a bag of bedbugs

“It’s chaos in there,” said Young. “There was a time that he opened up his sandwich and there was bedbugs with the bread. Nobody deserves to eat like that.”

Officials at the jail told KFOR back on November 10th that they’ve increased their investment in pest treatment to $10,000 a month and they now have a heat shed that applies heat to bedbug infested items, killing the larva and eggs.

However, Young doesn’t think enough is being done to combat the problem.

“You’re hearing one story versus the other, and now you’re actually seeing it,” she said, pointing to the bedbugs.

On Monday afternoon, the jail trust, which operates the jail, heard from members of the pubic as they considered options for the construction of a new jail.

“We just don’t trust you. I hope that you all really look into this,” Christopher Johnston said during public comment.

“It’s our office’s belief that really a new jail is the way to go,” Joy Turner, an attorney with the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, said.

The proposal from the Criminal Justice Advisory Council, CJAC, included three different options for a new facility. It included an area for mental health treatment, which is currently lacking, on-site courtrooms and plenty of space to combat the jail’s serious overcrowding issue.

The motion passed 7-0.

A new jail would cost around $300 million dollars. The funding options include using the county’s $150 million in American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA, funds, along with expiring bond money.

The county commissioners still have to approve the proposal and because the funding involves bond money, if the commissioners approve it as is, voters would have the final say during a special election.

“We think during that process they might make a recommendation whether to go with the 45 acres of 25 acres and then they bid that out to the public and you have construction,” Tim Tardibono, Executive Director of CJAC, said. “These are just recommendations and they’re the voting body that actually implements that call for the public.”