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Oklahoma City Council denies proposed jail site near Del City, future uncertain

The Oklahoma County Jail
Robby Korth
The Oklahoma County Jail

The Oklahoma City Council voted 7-1 against the proposed site for the new county jail following a public hearing.

About 20 community members spoke at a public hearing against the proposed jail location. The site was located along East Grand Boulevard, approximately 800 feet from Del City limits.

Commissioners said the East Grand Boulevard site was chosen because it was large enough to host the predicted 45 acres the facility will need to be constructed, as well as the additional space for a Behavioral Care Center. Commissioners said it would have cost $150-200 dollars more to keep the facility downtown and buy the surrounding property to expand.

The location faced large pushback from the town's residents because of the jail’s proximity to homes, schools and nursing facilities.

Nadine Gallagher, an English teacher at Crooked Oak Middle School, spoke against the jail, citing the safety concerns for her students.

“I'm just furious that somebody is going to put my kids at risk because the county failed in their duty to find a reasonable place,” Gallagher said.

Aurelius Francisco, an Oklahoma City resident and community organizer, encouraged denying the proposed location and including more stakeholders in further discussions.

“I would encourage folks to actually have people with lived experiences, who have family members who have themselves been incarcerated to be a part of the planning committee and not just architects who are completely out of touch from the lived experiences of folks here on the east side and across Oklahoma City,” Francisco said.

Ward 4 council member Todd Stone motioned to deny the zoning proposal because of economic and safety worries.

“The concern for me is that we’ve got detainees that are going to be let out in an area where they can walk 300 feet, 600 feet to neighborhoods,” Stone said.

On Monday, Del City started a petition requesting a grand jury investigation against Oklahoma County Commissioner Myles Davidson, accusing him of having a conflict of interest concerning the proposed property.

With the recommended zoning denied, the Oklahoma County Commission will have to find a new location.

Commissioner Carrie Blumert — the only person on the three-member board to vote against that location — said she was pleased with the outcome.

In January, Oklahoma County commissioners approved $40 million to help build a medical and mental health facility for the county’s future detention center. The money comes from an allocation Oklahoma County received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Blumert said time is of the essence to avoid losing federal ARPA funds for the County's Behavioral Care Center.

“I remain committed to finding a suitable location for the new jail & will continue to work tirelessly to find an alternative that does not harm our communities,” she wrote on social media.

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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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