Oklahoma County commissioner: Group's input will help with jail solutions

A recent visit with members of the Vera Institute of Justice gives me hope that Oklahoma County will soon find real and palpable solutions to very complex issues facing the Oklahoma County Adult Detention Center and criminal justice across our state.

Vera's proof of performance in other jurisdictions is enticing. They are using standards “grounded in the principle that people should be detained pending adjudication only when they pose a significant risk to public safety or of flight.”

They are here because Oklahoma County has the second-highest incarceration rate of similar-sized counties across the United States.

They are here because the U.S. Department of Justice cited several violations at Oklahoma County's Adult Detention Center. Most of those were minor violations and were resolved with simple, common-sense solutions. Those that remain unresolved are directly related to the design of our current building. Solutions we have examined and discussed for years are extraordinarily costly.

They are here because of how they have turned around other jurisdictions in similar situations such as ours.

Over the past two decades, several Oklahoma County blue-ribbon committees have recommended building a new jail. Yet voters are tentative to give more money toward just building a new jail complex. Voters want real solutions and real accountability.

We know building a massive complex that houses several thousand inmates under our current justice system and practices will not lower our high incarceration rates. A backlogged courthouse will continue to put pressure on judges and prosecutors who are already overworked and underpaid. The same is true of our detention officers and law enforcement officials.

The facts are simple: Voters won't vote for it; and, there must be a better way.

Read the entire story at newsok.com.

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