The citizens of Oklahoma County are damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to the jail.
On one hand, the towering monstrosity on Shartel Avenue has not only become a cesspool — literally — with sewage routinely backing up its plumbing, but detention inside the building has become a fight for survival with at least eight people dying inside its walls so far this year, including one already this month.
On the other, “the proposed new Oklahoma County Jail is expected to cost $297 million. But the bonds also come with an interest rate up to 10 percent over the course of their 30-year-life, commissioners said,” NonDoc reported.
As The Village City Councilor and outspoken critic Sean Cummings pointed out, the Criminal Justice Advisory Council canceled its public meeting 12 days prior to the vote.
So just like many of our other city, county and state elections, voters are going to be tasked with choosing the least worst option based upon the slim amount of information about the issue presented to them on June 28.
“Everyone acts like money is free,” Cummings told the trust. “(On) $26 million a year for 30 years, that’s $780 million in interest. That’s what they just agreed to put on the ballot,” NonDoc reported in April.
The other option is resigning people — many of whom are victims simply of the cash bail system — to hoping they can survive until their court dates. If convicted, most choose immediately to be sent to prisons rather than spend another day there. That’s how bad it’s gotten.
And asset forfeiture from the numerous jailers who have been arrested, fired and charged with smuggling contraband, including drugs, inside for inmates to supplement their insultingly low pay isn’t going to make a dent in the problem, so the noxious choice is left to us.