The Jail Trust is finally a reality! The Board of County Commissioners made a historic vote on May 22 to create the Trust for Oklahoma County. Numerous citizen groups have asked for citizen oversight for more than 24 years, and their voices were finally heard.
I will be one of the two elected officials alongside Sheriff Taylor. The three District nominations are Francie Ekwerekwu, (District 1) Ben Brown, (District 2) and Todd Lamb (District 3). The other four citizen spots will be held by Jim Couch, MT Berry, Tricia Everest, and Sue Ann Arnall. The County has excellent citizen leadership, and the Trustees necessary to see reform occur.
I give a special thanks to Commissioner Maughan for his long-time public stand for a jail trust, as well as all those who contributed, including the Criminal Justice Advisory Council, Bond Counsel John Michael Williams and Nate Ellis, Commissioner Blumert, and Presiding Judge Tom Prince; the other five elected officials, especially Court Clerk Rick Warren, County Clerk David Hooten, County Assessor Larry Stein, County Treasurer Butch Freeman, District Attorney David Prater, as well as Public Defender Robert Ravitz. They were also instrumental to success.
The Trustees will begin meeting soon to begin making steps to improve working conditions for our detention officers. The Trust will release a Request For Proposal (RFP) no later than October for management of the jail, so planning will be another immediate priority. While this is only the beginning of a new era in Oklahoma County, officials and citizens alike can “trust” that we have accomplished a necessary step towards justice reform, better jail conditions, and more responsible use of taxpayer money.