Commissioners pushing for committee to study options for new county jail

By Traci Chapman
Published on June 21, 2008

County Commissioners took their first step to “reload and regroup” in their efforts to build a new county jail Monday.

District 1 Commissioner Phil Carson said officials needed to take a step forward in their efforts to “find an answer” to ongoing problems with the current jail, which include overcrowding and structural issues.

“I think we need to come up with a five-person feasibility study to see what route the jail needs to take,” he said. “If we have one person from each of our districts and one person from the law enforcement end of it, that should be a balanced panel.”

Carson said he had spoken with Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby, who agreed to serve on the committee. District 3 Commissioner Grant Hedrick suggested El Reno Mayor Matt White serve on the panel, while District 2 Commissioner Don Young opted for Sheriff Lewis Hawkins, Judge Edward Cunningham and either District Attorney Cathy Stocker or Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse.

Hedrick suggested a representative from Mustang be part of the group. Commissioners discussed including Mustang senior building inspector Michael Rutledge in the group.
Commissioners made the move in the wake of a recent election, in which voters shot down a sales tax increase aimed at funding a new $24.8 million facility.

Oklahoma Department of Health inspectors visited the county jail May 5 and sent a notice of five violations to County Commissioners May 14, the day after the failed election. Hawkins said he and his staff are working to address the violations.

“We can’t do much about the overcrowding though,” he said. “That’s an area that’s up to the Commissioners.”

The issue was tabled until Commissioners’ next meeting to give them an opportunity to approach potential committee members.

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