Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center Counting On Vision2 Funds

Tuesday, September 18th 2012, 6:38 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County voters are 49 days away from deciding a $700-million sales tax extension called Vision2, to improve city-owned buildings at the airport, which are leased to private businesses and pay for quality of life projects throughout the county.

Part of the money would rebuild the county's juvenile detention center.

The director of the Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center said the facility is too small to do what needs to be done to protect kids and get them on the right track.

Brent Wolfe said Vision2 would go a long way to helping the community.

9/12/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Manufacturing Plants Plan Infrastructure Improvements With Vision2 Money

The Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center was built in 1965.

It handles more than 6,000 cases a year and holds juveniles for an average of a little more than a week.

Tuesday, there were 46 kids staying in the 55-bed facility.

"The best way we can get the community safe is by attending to those elements that are currently making it unsafe," Wolfe said.

Wolfe has been the center's director for eight years.

He's counting on voters to pass Proposition 2 of the Vision2 sales tax extension in November.

It would mean $38 million to rebuild the detention center.

9/3/2012 Related Story: Opposition Emerges To Tulsa Vision 2 Project

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith remembers the first time she set foot in the building.

"Honestly, I was shocked," Keith said.

Keith and Wolfe said the building is too old and too small.

They point to hallways being used as storage space for files and employees working in an old boiler room in the shadow of water pipes.

A room, which houses the public defender's office, used to be a bathroom. Now, five people have their desks there.

Reporter Dan Bewley: "What does that say about the space here?"
Brent Wolfe: "It says that it's cramped."

The county had to install a double wide trailer to give the court stenographers space to keep their files and the important legal documents.

"We're ten years, maybe fifteen years, past the time when this building should have been replaced," Keith said.

In addition to the lack of space, Keith and Wolfe said the heat and air often go out where the kids are being held, and the entire facility needs to be re-plumbed.

"The county must do it and the dollars have to come from somewhere, so we're asking the citizens to take this issue seriously and help us get it done," Keith said.

The juvenile detention center is part of Proposition 2, under the quality of life improvements for Vision2.

That proposition totals $361 million.