Jail Authority Terminates Contract With Software Company

Thursday, September 16th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa County Jail Trust Authority voted on Wednesday to terminate its contract with the software company Epic Solutions. The company admitted it couldn't supply the computer system for the new jail. Some critics say privatizing the jail is behind all the jail problems. But as the News on Six has learned, privatization has nothing to do with the jail's computer problems.

The vote was unanimous. The authority will not give Epic Solutions any more time to deliver the jail's computer system. Epic admitted it couldn't hold up its end of the bargain to supply the software for the new jail. County commissioners say many people believe the computer problems stem from having a privately run jail. However, they say the software has nothing to do with the private company that runs the jail, the Corrections Corporation of America. "This decision was made before C-C-A was ever engaged," said Commissioner Bob Dick. "The requests for the proposal were developed by a team primarily consisting of the sheriff's people who told said this is the system we want in this jail."

The authority also voted to begin after the money they invested in Epic's system: $50,000 in fees to Epic, $18,000 in expenses transferring the computer system from the old to the new jail, plus county workers' time and labor. A performance bond in the contract should cover those costs, but there's still bitterness. "We're disappointed and upset that they didn't have it in place as promised," said Dick. "You can't put a dollar value on that in this legal issue."

Dick says he wants the next software provider to be located close enough to Tulsa where he can keep an eye on the software progress. He's worried about finding a company capable of building the high tech system. "When you have a 1,400 bed jail, direct supervision, multiple courts serving both city and county courts, then it is a much more sophisticated system than any of our M-I-S people have found," he said. Dick says he hasn't shopped around since May of last year when the contract was signed. He says with the way technology constantly changes, he may find someone who has exactly what he's looking for.

The jail authority has three options for getting a new computer system. Either use the county's internal computer team to build a system, hire another private firm, or use C-C-A's prison system. The authority plans to make a decision next week.