OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Several lawmakers are calling for federal intervention at the Oklahoma County Jail.
Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to step in.
“The dangerous and hostile environment at the jail is despicable,” he said.
He says after the Jail Trust took over, tensions have been running high, with multiple inmates dying, a hostage situation, and several detention officers charged with assault.
He and those who know inmates say the conditions are unhygienic and uninhabitable.
“The living conditions, we’re talking about bed bugs, we’re talking about overcrowding, we’re talking about the food,” Cristina Rivera, an activist who knows an inmate, said.
Rep. Ajay Pitman (D-OKC) says she used to work as a clerk in the jail.
“I saw the travesty first hand. I remember the smell, I remember the incidents that happened on a daily basis, that not only put the inmates in jeopardy, but also put the nurses, the counselors, the officers in jeopardy,” she said.
Lowe says another option would be building a new jail with sales tax money.
“My suggestion is a federal takeover for the federal government to take over the entire jail unless we come to a resolution where we can build a new jail with a sales tax,” he said.
Jail trustee Francie Ekwerekwu says she supports federal intervention.
“It is absolutely time somebody, hopefully the DOJ does and provide that relief in order to save the lives that live and work at that jail,” she said.
Jail Trust Chair Tricia Everest sent KFOR the following statement:
“I applaud the selection of Attorney General Garland and grateful that he is returning to the State on the anniversary of the Bombing especially as he played a role in the prosecution. Iinvite the caucus and any legislators to come tour, see the changes and plans, and discuss their concerns and comments. We will cooperate with any oversight.”
Lowe says he hasn’t been able to speak to Garland yet but hopes to set up a meeting.