OKLAHOMA COUNTY (KFOR) – A town hall was held Thursday night at The Village Public Library to allow county citizens their first of several chances to speak on the plan that would fund a new jail.
On June 28, voters in Oklahoma County will decide on the proposed $260 million bond project, and a little more than a dozen residents showed up to the town hall. All of them heard why they should vote against the bond issue in June. The People’s Council for Justice Reforms said it won’t fix preexisting problems there, and they want a different solution. However, others have felt like it’s the right way to go.
“Ask yourselves, do you want to, for the next 30-plus years, be paying for a facility, be paying for a larger jail that’s going to increase mass incarceration?” said Christopher Johnston, a member of the People’s Council for Justice Reform.
As the vote looms, even The Village city councilman Sean Cummings is joining that fight to vote no.
“Eighty percent of the people in the jail have not been convicted of a crime,” Cummings said. “Literally their constitutional rights are being violated every day.”
The project was approved by county commissioners across the board in early April. The new facility would hold 1,400 inmates and include space for medical and mental health treatments.
Those against it said they don’t feel there’s a set plan in place. They claimed Thursday that a new jail won’t fix any preexisting problems that have been documented for years, citing a need for mental health facilities while fixing the jail as it is.
“What we would also like to see is the number of people in there reduced down to 1,200, which is what it was designed for,” Cummings said.
County Commissioner Kevin Calvey told KFOR in the past, however, that “there are just some things you cannot fix.” He went on to say that a new facility will “enable us to operate it at a lower cost than the current facility.” Fixthejail.com, which was put in place as a campaign for a new jail, called it “the right plan, at the right time.”
“Are you willing to pay for further mass incarceration, which does not work?” Johnston said. “Or are you willing to do some preventative measures, mental health counseling, medical care, job training, opportunities.”
The next scheduled town hall is in two weeks.