Tulsa Leaders Rally For Upgrades To Jail, Juvenile Detention Facility

Thursday, January 9th 2014, 6:34 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County's top prosecutor lost his cool on Thursday.

An emotional District Attorney, Tim Harris, said the county's outdated and run-down juvenile justice center is making it harder to turn troubled kids around.

A 45-year-old building is bursting at the seams.

Harris said we're letting down our children by keeping them there.

At the Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center, it's hard to not feel like the walls are closing in on you.

"People that work here are shoved in a sardine can," Harris said.

He said it is time to use part of the .067 percent sales tax to build a new juvenile justice facility.

"We bring our children into this building and we say to them, yeah we're going to turn you around, but this is the best we have to give you. Shame on us," said Harris.

Harris says the building has a lot of maintenance issues.

The walls are falling apart, ceiling leaking, and on Thursday maintenance workers were busy fixing the heater.

"When it rains, the floor floods. When it rains, the roof leaks and when it's not raining, the plumbing is breaking," Harris said.

"All the attorneys sit together around the table, the DA, ADA, the parents attorneys, DHS, everybody," said Judge Doris Fransein of Tulsa County.

Fransein said that is no way to run a courtroom.

She explains the cramped quarters are huge safety concerns.

"We have to be very, very careful about security, safety," she said. "We have to make sure everybody is calm."

Every room in the building serves double duty.

For example, there's nowhere for attorneys to meet privately with clients, so they get together in the hallway.

"How are we going to turn the next generation who's going awry, whether they're neglected or abused or whether they're delinquent when we bring them into a place that when you walk in you say, 'this is it?'" Harris said.

The juvenile court system has outgrown this 1969 building.

Some staff works out of a portable addition.

"I don't think people understand this is a court and you don't conduct court with staff working out of a triple wide," Fransein said.

The county is hosting a series of town hall meetings over the next couple of weeks at these locations:

     • 1/13 LaFortune Park Community Center

     • 1/14 Hardesty Library

     • 1/16 Rudisill North Library

     • 1/16: Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce

     • 1/21: TCC West Campus

     • 1/22: South County Jenks Glenpool Community Center

     • 1/23: Owasso Community Center