Tulsa Council Approves Proposal To Create City Jail

Wednesday, August 16th 2017, 6:59 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A long running dispute over the cost of keeping city inmates in the county jail ended Wednesday. The City plans to build a new jail and stop using the county to house city prisoners.

An old, small city jail is being used by the county as holding space, but the city plans to take it back, banking on saving $300,000 a year.

Mayor G.T Bynum gave the County 30 days notice to move out, claiming "Tulsa County currently uses that facility for free as a holding facility, and they will still be able to for free, until one month from now when they'll need to find a new place to temporarily house their inmates on the day of court appearances."

8/15/2017 Related Story: Tulsa County Sheriff Says Creating City Jail A Bad Idea

It’s in the jail holding facility where inmates, chained together, go in and out of the county courtrooms next door. It’s actually city space, an old jail, that the City plans to renovate so it can hold inmates overnight.

That will cost a half million dollars.

Bynum said, "We'll reduce transportation costs by housing our inmates in the same building as our city courts. We'll save time on booking by getting our officers back on the streets faster, creating a force multiplier when we desperately need one, and we'll know our true costs and we'll pay them."

The city council didn't hesitate to approve it after just over an hour of explanation. The County was relieved the fight was over.

8/15/2017 Related Story: Tulsa Proposing Use Of Okmulgee Jail While New City Jail Is Created

Tulsa County Commissioner Ron Peters said, "This matter has been fought over for too many years - too many city councilors, county commissioners and mayors, and there's a lot better things to work with the city on than fighting over this."

The entire dispute was over the cost of having city prisoners in the county jail - an average of 25 people per day.

The City claims the County never agreed to really detail the true cost, so the mayor decided to find an alternative that will open in one month.

The new lockup can hold 30 people, but, if the city has more inmates, they'll go to Okmulgee's city jail on a contract basis.

There will be no mass transfer and no immediate changes. It all starts in 30 days.