OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – It has been a controversial topic of discussion for many years, but voters will soon decide whether or not to build a new jail in Oklahoma County.
Last month, the Oklahoma County Commissioners approved a plan to put a proposed bond issue on the ballot. That bond issue would pay for the construction of a new Oklahoma County Jail.
District 3 County Commissioner Kevin Calvey told KFOR that if the public votes yes on June 28th, it would mean the opportunity to improve public safety without raising taxes, and with greater accountability.
“There are some things you simply cannot fix,” said Calvey. “A better designed facility will enable us to operate it at a lower cost than the current facility.
Calvey also said multiple sets of eyes would be involved in the proposed construction project through an oversight committee who would closely watch the process to make sure the rollout occurs in a manner that would work.
However, jail reform advocates say the issues at the current facility stretch much farther than just the building.
“You’re asking the citizens of this county to pay for a larger jail to be built so that you can incarcerate more people instead of doing what has been scientifically proven, providing jobs, mental health, medical health and etc.,” said Christopher Johnston.
“If you build a new jail, it will not get rid bed bugs, of black mold…it won’t get rid of the poorly trained guards that are not qualified to be there,” added local activist Mark Faulk.
If voters approve the $260 million project, the new facility is expected to hold 1,400 inmates and include space for medical and mental health treatments.
On Thursday, the People’s Council for Justice Reform are holding the first of a series of informational town hall meetings to discuss the bond issue.
“With voters being overwhelmed with talking points and falsehoods, let’s give them the honest facts and let them decide,” Village Councilman Sean Cummings said.
The forum is open to all Oklahoma County residents.
Thursday’s meeting will be held at the Village Public Library, located at 10307 N. Pennsylvania Ave., from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The next town hall meeting will be held Tuesday, May 24 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ralph Ellison Library, located at 2000 N.E. 23rd St.