OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new Oklahoma County Detention Center Action Committee has named several proposed members, including two police chiefs, a state senator and several local activists.
“It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a miscarriage of justice,” Sara Bana, a local activist, told KFOR.
Since the start of 2021, there have been four deaths inside the Oklahoma County Jail, along with two jail escapes in recent months.
“It’s honestly shameful,” Bana said.
Bana is one of several community members who’ve been attending Oklahoma County Jail Trust meetings since the trust took over operations of the jail in July.
“Any time we have individuals who are waiting for due process in state custody, they should be afforded safety and at least we should be able to guarantee their survival,” Bana said.
Bana is on a list of proposed members for a new Oklahoma County Detention Center Action Committee.
The list also includes activist Adrianna Laws.
“We will be doing a lot of research and data compiling and trying to figure out solutions, and we’ll take those recommendations over to the trust and it will be up to them to actually implement them,” Laws said.
Other proposed members include Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes, Moore Police Chief Todd Gibson and Senator George Young, D-Oklahoma City.
“I’m not a jail professional, but I can tell you when stuff does not work right, particularly when you have deaths,” Young told KFOR.
The trustees who are on the committee, Sue Ann Arnall, Frances Ekwerekwu and Ben Brown, will vote to accept the proposed members at their first meeting. It was scheduled for Wednesday, February 10, but the meeting was cancelled due to icy road conditions.
The three proposed members who KFOR spoke with on Wednesday said they are ready to get to work.
“I’m definitely humbled that I’ve been given the opportunity to be able to serve. I take the responsibility very seriously,” Bana said.
“We, the government officials, elected officials, are responsible for the welfare of those individuals, and so, I hope we can make some things happen that will quickly assess and move to some changes that will make things better,” Young said.
“I’m not really understanding, honestly, how the trust has been in power since July and they haven’t really, I feel like, done enough to try to prevent the loss of life,” Laws said.
The meeting has not yet been rescheduled.