Oklahoma County Jail Trust chair says crucial jail improvements are being made, OSDH inspection deadline looming

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An inspection report deadline given to the Oklahoma County Jail Trust by the Oklahoma State Department of Health in early March is approaching, and the trust’s chair told KFOR they’ve made a lot of improvements in recent weeks.

“Warm showers for the first time, working toilets, less sewage,” Tricia Everest, chair of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, or the jail trust, said on Tuesday.

Those are all things Everest said the trust and jail employees have been working on improving inside the jail.

“I’m really impressed with our team. They are looking at the root causes of some of these perpetual problems the building has had,” Everest said.

Back on March 8, OSDH sent a letter attached to a recent jail inspection report to Jail Administrator Greg Williams.

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Williams:

On February 5, 2021, our office conducted an annual inspection and investigations, during a visit to your facility, to determine if your facility was in compliance with the requirements of the Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) in Title 310, Chapter 670, City and County Detention Facility Standards. Deficiencies identified during this inspection are listed on the enclosed Statement of Deficiencies (SOD) form.

Pursuant to Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes, at Section 193(B), you are provided a report (SOD) of the deficiencies identified in the condition or operation of the facility and specific proposals for their solution. Based on the deficiencies cited, you are provided notice that the facility was found not to be in substantial compliance with established standards.

Pursuant to Title 74 O.S. Section 194, [if] the deficiencies listed in the report have not been corrected, within sixty (60) days after delivery of the report, the Commissioner of Health shall be authorized to file a complaint with the Attorney General or the District Attorney.

If you would like to provide a response or provided an alternative “Plan of Correction”, please send correspondence via e-mail to CCDF@health.ok.gov. If you have questions, please contact our office at 405-426-8170.

Sincerely, Barry Edwards
Detention Program Manager

Enc. Statement of Deficiencies
cc County Commissioners

Oklahoma County Jail
Oklahoma County Jail

The report found a problem with mold and mildew on the walls and floors of the showers, not all inmates getting showers, a bed bug infestation and food carts not being delivered in a timely manner.

Officials said at a press conference on March 31st that a lot of these issues can be attributed to a critical staffing shortage.

“You have painted concrete and you have the shower curtains, it’s a constant perpetual. So, we’re learning how we can better change them to the aluminum or to the steel showers, so there’s not a mold growing,” Everest said.

Everest also told KFOR they’ve made 15 new hires since last month’s deadly hostage situation on the 10th floor of the jail, with nine more potential hires following a recent job fair.

“We look at the numbers and if you take away the special programs that went with the Sheriff’s Office, just in the last couple years, we can’t get above really 330-340 employees,” said Everest. “We need, in my opinion, 500 to do everything.”

Although the OSDH deadline, 60 days from March 8, is up on May 7, Everest said a report is not due back to OSDH until the end of May.

“It’s being finalized,” she said.

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