Problems Still Linger at New Jail

Friday, September 3rd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There have been a lot of complaints logged against the new Tulsa County
jail since it opened last month. The company that operates the jail, Corrections Corporation of America, admits to the problems and says they're being corrected. When inmates started transferring from the old jail a month ago, complaints apparently started almost immediately. Attorneys have said they were forced to wait in long lines for more than an hour to see their clients. "If you want to run over and see your client before you go to court, forget it," said attorney Jim Fransein. "You don't have time. It's just going to have to be worked into our schedule. We're going to have to accept that there is a change and get used to it," he said.

Since then, Fransein says, the waiting time for client visits has shortened. C-C-A's Tom Bennett says with only four visiting rooms per pod area and with 90 inmates per pod, attorneys and other visitors must often wait for a room to clear. "Right now we're trying to find different ways to accommodate everyone. But there's only one attorney visiting-booth per pod-area," Bennett said.

The process of booking prisoners has also created problems. Officers found themselves waiting for long periods of time for jail staff to process incoming inmates.
Bennett says there's a good explanation for those delays, too. "Half of the staff was still over at the sheriff's department and the other half of the staff was still here with us," he explained. "We were running this facility, they were running the old jail, and we both were transitioning inmates at the same time."

Under its contract with the county, C-C-A has a time limit of 20 minutes to pre-book people so officers can get back to their regular duties. Bennett says that problem is almost cleared up. He says new facilities always have a few kinks to work out, but he believes the hard times are over. County commissioners say they're also confident C-C-A will work out the remaining problems. But if they don't, the county can use the contract to force them to correct problems.