The Edmond Sun

Local News

November 29, 2012

Voters may decide county jail’s future in March

EDMOND — Local voters may go to the polls as early as March to determine the fate of the estimated $290 million cost for a renovated or new county jail.

Oklahoma County is incarcerating a significantly greater portion of the population than it did when the jail was designed and opened in 1991. Problems arose almost immediately. During the first couple of months two inmates escaped. Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent correcting issues. Disputes between the designers, contractors and county arose.

In September, when Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel announced the jail had been accredited by the American Correctional Association for its operations, occupancy was at about 2,350; maximum capacity is 2,890. The jail was designed to hold about 1,200 inmates in single occupancy cells.

The trend indicates a societal choice, which comes with a price, stated a jail advisory committee that began meeting in 2008. The vast majority (80 percent to 90 percent) of the jail population consists of individuals who have not been convicted of a crime.

Remaining issues include the physical plant, inadequate recreational space and the operation of the jail as an indirect supervision facility. A potentially costly federal lawsuit likely will come if they are not corrected, spurring the need for a renovated or new facility at another site.

Oklahoma County Engineer Stacey Trumbo said renovation of the current facility would cost about the same as building a new jail — about $290 million. Commissioners are considering either a bond or a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to raise funds for the project, and they are leaning toward a sales tax, Trumbo said.

In order to have a March election, commissioners would have to act on a resolution by Jan. 1, Trumbo said. He said possibly next week a Georgia consulting firm is expected to recommend building a new facility, the third time such a recommendation has been made.

In a previous report, District 3 Commissioner Ray Vaughn, of Edmond, said if such a measure is approved, completing the design phase would take about a year and construction would take about two years.

In May 2003, 81 percent of county voters rejected a county-wide 2/5 percent permanent sales tax. The tax would have collected $35 million a year to fund operations of the jail and sheriff’s office.

Lack of oversight and lack of accounting transparency were among the theories about why the measure failed, according to the jail advisory committee. Additionally, various local groups vigorously opposed it.

In 2008, the U.S Department of Justice released a scathing report which found the jail failed to provide detainees reasonable protection from harm, constitutionally-required mental health care services, adequate housing, sanitation and environmental protections and protection from serious fire-safety risks.

While the DOJ made it clear it would prefer to work with the county to resolve its outstanding concerns, it maintained the U.S. attorney general’s option to initiate a lawsuit to correct identified deficiencies.

Most issues were operational, not structural. The jail had to resolve 142 elements to achieve accreditation. In September, Whetsel said nearly $2 million had been spent addressing the issues. About 60 additional staff members had been hired since 2007. Enhancements included video upgrades and changes in procedures. The jail’s 13th floor was converted from housing to makeshift medical care and mental health care facilities.

Trumbo said work is also progressing toward a potential new juvenile facility, which would cost about $60 million. | 341-2121, ext. 108

Text Only
Local News
  • Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one

    Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
    Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
    In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.

    July 26, 2014

  • MS_Andy Billups.jpg Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency

    Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
    The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
    And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
    Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • -1.jpg 5-year-old learns valuable lessons

    It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
    Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
    “I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated

    When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
    “When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.

    July 25, 2014

  • OC welcomes missionary, military families

    For the ninth consecutive year Oklahoma Christian University will host missionary and military families returning to the United States at Global Reunion 2014.
    The July 23-27 camp has doubled in size in the last two years with 150 participants from 43 countries on campus.
    The camp is for children who are known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) though parents are allowed to attend sessions as well. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 10 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.

    July 25, 2014

  • Planning Commission approves rezoning

    The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district.  Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
    “They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”

    July 25, 2014

  • Out of the stressful wreckage: Scholarships for car crash victims

    After the dust has settled, the injuries have healed and there’s a replacement car in the driveway, victims of automobile accidents often still face an uphill battle trying to move on with their lives. According to psychologists, for some the fear never really goes away. It’s common enough that the National Institutes of Health gives physicians specific recommendations for patients exhibiting acute stress symptoms and PTSD after motor vehicle accidents. With more than 3 million injury accidents a year nationwide, the San Francisco Bay Area personal injury law firm Appel Law Firm LLP, sees their share of the aftermath — only they decided to do something about it.

    July 25, 2014

  • Agencies ask for volunteers to support grandparents who raise grandchildren

    Local law enforcement agencies are helping Sunbeam Family Services provide much-needed school supplies to grandparents who are faced with the challenge of raising their grandchildren. According to a recent census poll, there are nearly three million grandparents raising more than five million grandchildren in the United States.

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-26 YARD OF THE WEEK.jpg Ganns earn Yard of the Week honors

    This week’s “Edmond Yard of the Week” winner has been in existence for 44 years at 105 Barbara Drive, but looks fresh and new thanks to longtime residents Betty and Gordon Gann as they fill their garden spaces to overflowing with colors and textures.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_2996.JPG Krazy Daze hits downtown Edmond

    Newly transplanted Edmond residents Hannah Brenning, Cheyenne Middle School 8th grader; Jordan Brenning, Cross Timbers 4th grader; and Sydney Brenning, North High School freshman; check out the items in front of Sterling's in downtown Edmond during the Krazy Daze Sale lasting through Saturday. Businesses will open their doors at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results