Tulsa Officials Begin Push To Improve Juvenile Detention Center

Monday, January 13th 2014, 11:16 pm
By: Tess Maune

Tulsa County's elected officials began another push to improve Tulsa County's Juvenile Detention Center.

The need for a new juvenile center truly came to light last year with a grand jury report that exposed horrific conditions inside.

Monday night's meeting was the beginning of a push for a bond election that would raise money to build a new add on to the Tulsa county jail by extending a sales tax that is set to expire at the end of June.

1/9/14 Related Story: Tulsa Leaders Rally For Upgrades To Jail, Juvenile Detention Facility

It was standing room only as those in Tulsa County voiced their questions and suggestions for a new juvenile detention center.

Among the crowd, Paul Braswell said, "Once we seen it, it was like oh my god, really?"

The Grand jury foreman, who help write up a report detailing the trouble inside the county's current facility.

"They throw the kids in Alcatraz-like juvenile cells and that's where their housed and they sleep and it's just really horrific," Braswell said.

The report outlined overcrowding for both juveniles staying there and staff, the lack of meeting space forcing attorneys to meet with clients in crowded hallways. It detailed how the small courtroom jeopardizes the safety of those who visit the courtroom.

But the list of problems goes on.

"There's not enough staff, there's not enough space, it's dirty, it leaks, it's mold-infested. But you tell me you're here to help me and we can do better," said Terry Simonson with the Tulsa County Sheriff's office.

She says the detention center hasn't been remodeled since 1965.

"It's really time to tell the kids that we care enough to put them in a place where this rehabilitation can happen," Simonson said.

She said the county hopes to hold an election in April to renew a .067 sales tax to build a new juvenile center and to address public safety at the jail.

The money is currently going toward streets and expires at the end of July.

Braswell says, even if the plan doesn't pass, taxpayers will still be paying in the long run,

"You have to take care of kids first so we don't have to support them for the rest of their lives in the penitentiary."

The bond cost would be about $55 million, which taxpayers would pay out over 15 years.

There will be six more town hall meetings in the next two weeks.

All the meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m.

     • Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - Hardesty Library Frossard Auditorium

        8316 East 93rd Street, Tulsa, OK (918) 549-7550

     • Thursday, January 16, 2014 - Rudisill North Library Ancestral Hall

        1520 North Hartford, Tulsa, OK (918) 549-7645

     • Thursday, January 16, 2014 - Meeting Hall at Central on Main

        210 North Main, Broken Arrow, OK (918) 259-4301

     • Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - TCC West Campus Student Center Auditorium

        7505 West 41st Street, Tulsa, OK (918) 595-7000

     • Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - South County (Jenks/Glenpool) Community Center

        13800 South Peoria Avenue, Glenpool, OK 74033 (918) 746-3780

     • Thursday, January 23, 2014 - Owasso Community Center

        301 South Cedar Street, Owasso, OK (918) 272-3903