WHY THIS PLAN?
We have a chance to finally replace our overcrowded, outdated, poorly designed jail without raising taxes. Our current jail is dangerous and inefficient. We need an efficient jail that keeps us safer, and reflects our community values – helping people that can be diverted from incarceration be more productive members of our community.
The Oklahoma County Jail is just one piece of our criminal justice system. By working together we have made great strides to reduce the overcrowding in the jail. But we can’t change the design and physical structure of the current facility that limits our ability to hold people who are awaiting trial in a way that is beneficial to our community and makes us safer in the long term.
The pending expiration of existing county bonds gives us the opportunity to build a new facility without a tax increase.
A more modern facility that is designed to meet the needs of our criminal justice system will provide numerous benefits to our community.
First, the business community supports this plan. The new facility's job training programs will save taxpayer money and improve public safety in the long term by keeping people from simply ending up back in the jail and then prison, where their prospects for a successful re-entry into society diminish.
OKC has a well-known model of building capital projects successfully. Now the citizens of the entire county have a chance to follow that model through a citizens oversight committee, like OKC’s MAPS projects. This will help ensure that the jail will be built right, will function well for what we need, and will be a better representation of where we are as a community.
Job training programs are just part of the new facility. Diversion programs to get those facing mental health problems or addiction the help they need to be productive members of society will expanded, rather than simply letting them sit in the jail where their problems worsen. The “revolving door” where people are released simply to get arrested again is expensive and must be stopped. The movement of people and other case processing efficiencies can also be enhanced, lowering the daily population, and improving operational costs in the long term. And new mental health and medical facilities, along with a direct supervision model, will make the jail safer for the inmates.
Finally, we’ve all heard the stories. We know our current jail isn’t up to our standards, and has put us in danger of action by the US Department of Justice, in which case taxes will most certainly have to be raised. We don’t want the federal government to come in and fix things for us. Let’s fix our own problem. This is the right plan at the right time.
Vote YES on June 28 to fix the jail.