Jail committee hears from Okmulgee Co. jail operator

Saturday, April 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A group that runs the Okmulgee County jail told a committee contemplating a similar arrangement in Oklahoma County that its operation has been successful.

John Martin, operations manager of the Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority, said the jail, which is set to open in August, will be operated by county employees.

Martin, who will be among those operating the jail, said his operation differs from the Tulsa County jail, which is run by a private company employed by a jail trust authority.

He answers to the trust, which has representatives from most of the county and city- area governments.

``It's brought a lot of the agencies together,'' Martin told the committee Friday at a meeting at Oklahoma State University at Oklahoma City.

Martin said he believes the Okmulgee County arrangement will mean a more professional jail administration than the traditional sheriff-run operations in most of the state's 77 counties.

Martin said he has worked for a private prison operator and the state Corrections Department and also has a degree in the study of corrections management.

``Sheriffs are elected officials with various backgrounds,'' Martin said. ``I like to consider myself a corrections professional.''

Oklahoma County commissioners, who have strained relations with Sheriff John Whetsel, formed the committee that is looking at creating a jail trust authority.

The committee is looking at the jail, existing jail trust authorities and whether control of the Oklahoma County jail should be changed from being under Whetsel to a trust that would include Whetsel and other county officials.

A preliminary report is due in six months.