Chicken-Fried News: No joke

PDFederal official: Knock, knock.

Oklahoma County jail official: Who’s there?

Federal official: The U.S. Justice Department.

Oklahoma County jail official: The U.S. Justice Department who?

Federal official: The U.S. Justice Department for an inspection as part of the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the county government and the federal government. We know this jail has been overcrowded, dangerous and deteriorating. We know that this jail should be working through a reform process initiated by us. Open the door and let us in for an inspection. If this inspection is bad, you can bet that we will be in court arguing federal government takeover of this jail.

This is no joke.

According to NewsOK, the feds want to inspect the Oklahoma County jail. An attorney for the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote, “We anticipate being on-site in the early part of next year.”

The new year marks four years since the department conducted a “compliance monitoring” tour of the jail facility. Last November, the Oklahoma County Commission denied the department’s five-day inspection request. In correspondence with the department, District Attorney David Prater suggested the federal officials wait and come back later to really see new reforms taking hold.

While the Justice Department is glad to hear reforms are underway, attorney Cathleen Trainor responded justice officials would come anyways.

“We appreciate your assurances that the county has made progress towards compliance and understand that both the county and the state of Oklahoma are invested in reforming your justice system,” wrote Trainor in correspondence to Prater. “We anticipate seeing results from these efforts in your next Compliance Report. … We will review the report and target our on-site monitoring tour with experts, which the MOU explicitly authorizes.”

Sheriff P.D. Taylor told NewsOK, “We will be as ready … as we can be.”

Taylor was elected sheriff in September by county voters. While Taylor has ushered in “fixes” to jail operations during his time as interim sheriff, an inmate was murdered and two former jailers were accused of repeatedly firing pepper ball guns at a mentally troubled inmate who later died, according to NewsOK.

How does the other joke go?

The feds walk behind the bars, see the absurdity and violations and immediately take control.

 

Gazette Staff

This article was written by the Oklahoma Gazette staff. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story headline in your subject line.

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