Private Security Firm Runs New City Jail
The City of Tulsa has sidestepped a long-standing jail-costs dispute with Tulsa County by opening its own city jail. The Tulsa Municipal Jail opened March 1 with reported capacity for 30 short-term inmates.
City officials had sparred with county officials for several years over the cost of housing inmates booked for city offenses into Tulsa County’s David L. Moss Correctional Facility.
Tulsa officials say the new city jail housed an average of 18 inmates overnight during the first week of operation. Yet, on a Monday morning twelve days after opening day, the city jail Website reported 34 inmates booked in for the jail’s 11th night of operation. Another 10 had been booked in since midnight that same day. Local jail populations often surge on Mondays while those arrested during the weekend await court appearances.
The municipal lockup can hold inmates for a maximum of 10 days. City sources told reporters Tulsa police booked 107 inmates into the jail in the first week of operations. Most were detained for less than 24 hours. An undisclosed number were shuttled to a jail 39 miles away, in Okmulgee.
In the first week, police reported reduced booking times for inmates booked into the city jail as compared to the county jail. Booking procedures in the county otherwise take as long as 90 minutes. Police said bookings in the city jail now take about 30 minutes.
Tulsa officials told reporters that typical charges for inmates in the city lockup included public intoxication, driving with suspended or revoked license and shoplifting charges. Inmates may be held in the Tulsa lockup pending release on bond or court appearances, or may serve short sentences in the jail for municipal court convictions.
The City of Tulsa continues to operate a municipal-court holding facility alongside the new municipal jail at 600 Civic Plaza. The holding facility is used to detain individuals in custody while they await appearances in municipal court.
British Company Employs Tulsa Jail Guards
Located in Civic Center Plaza near the Tulsa Municipal court, the new city jail has 25 beds for male inmates and 5 for female inmates. The jail is operated by a Tulsa police sergeant and 26 employees of a private security firm, G4S Secure Solutions.
With regional headquarters in Jupiter, Florida, G4S USA is a subsidiary of the world’s largest security firm – G4S pic. The British security firm acquired the US security business, formerly The Wackenhut Corporation, in 2004 when it purchased a Dutch security firm, Group 4 Falck. The Dutch firm had purchased Wackenhut two years earlier.
G4S in 2013 famously employed Omar Mateen as a guard at St. Lucie County Courthouse. Mateen in 2016 killed 49 people during a shooting spree inside on Orlando night club. He had been previously removed from his position as a courthouse guard after coworkers complained of his violent tirades, and his claims to have terrorist connections. Investigations after the Pulse nightclub shooting suggested G4S had failed to properly administer required psychological tests.
Tulsa Jail Spills Over to Crowded Okmulgee Jail
On Monday, March 12, 2018, a new City of Tulsa “Jail Hub” web page reported 44 inmates currently booked in to the new Tulsa Municipal Jail. Of those, 10 had been booked that same day. Another 11 were booked into the jail the previous day, 8 were booked two days earier, 13 were booked three days earlier, and three were booked four days earlier.
According to the website report, it would appear that at least four of those who were booked in before midnight Sunday were beyond the jail’s 30 bed capacity.
Three of the eight female inmates booked in the jail Monday since at least Sunday night exceeded the jail’s reported capacity for 5 female inmates. The roster also appeared to exceed the reported capacity of 25 male inmates by one as of midnight on March 11.
City officials told the Tulsa World Tulsa Municipal Jail had already sent a few inmates to Okmulgee County. The City of Tulsa had earlier announced an agreement with Okmulgee County to house inmates when the downtown jail reaches capacity or inmates must be held longer than 10 days.
According to The Tulsa World, city officials did not say how many were sent to Okmulgee, but characterized the number as small and only including inmates serving longer sentences.
Okmulgee officials presumably offered the City of Tulsa a better contract for housing inmates than that offered by the Tulsa County. Whatever better daily costs Okmulgee might offer, transportation to Okmulgee also s a round trip drive of more than 75 miles and nearly an nearly an hour-and-a-half drive time. The Tulsa County jail is one mile, and four minutes drive from the Tulsa Municipal Jail.
Omulgee County Jail has lately been the subject of ongoing complaints related to poor conditions for inmates. Families have complained their loved ones suffered from a lack of heat in the wintertime, unresponsive guards and inadequate access to medical care.
Okmulgee County currently operates two jail facilities, including a facility opened in 2000. In 2014, state inspectors warned Okmulgee County officials their jail could face fines and sanctions if overcrowding problems were not addressed. That same year, a jailhouse riot caused $10,000 in damage and sent an inmate to the hospital. Okmulgee voters later approved a sales tax to fund construction of a newer 244-bed facility.
In 2017, the Okmulgee County Jail entered a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to hold as many as 200 immigration detainees. The contract is typical of funding strategies county jails have entertained to replace revenue lost from lapsed state contracts. County jails statewide lost funding after the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections terminated arrangements with county jails to hold various inmates under DOC supervision.
‘Sobering Center’ to Replace Drunk Tank
Lockups for public intoxication in the city’s new downtown drunk-tank will likely subside after the city opens a planned “Sobering Center” in May. The Skelly Drive detox and addiction treatment center will include 42 beds. Police may drop off people held for public intoxication at the Sobering Center instead of booking them into the municipal jail.
At the Sobering Center, intoxicated individuals will be required to remain a minimum of 10 hours. The facility will further offer addiction treatment programs ranging from a 5-day detox to in-patient stays as long as 30 to 45 days. The facility will accept city public intoxication detainees under a city contract with 12&12 Inc., a Tulsa addiction-treatment non-profit agency.
The City of Tulsa’s move to fund a public-intoxication diversion program will most likely steer some people away from a crowded jail system. Otherwise, overcrowding, fiscal constraints and reliance on private contractors for operation of public jails can create conditions that systematically fail to meet urgent needs of people housed among a potentially dangerous jail population.
Free Consultation: Criminal Defense Lawyers in Tulsa
When you or a loved one is detained in any jail, there is no time to lose. You need legal counsel and representation now. Proper legal representation can sometimes mean reduced bond, or even release without bond. At a minimum, a Tulsa lawyer can give you the assurance you are doing everything possible to regain your freedom.
Wirth Law Office is uniquely situated within a block of the Tulsa jail and municipal court. When you have an immediate legal need, our criminal defense lawyers are nearby. For a free consultation with a Tulsa criminal defense lawyer, contact Wirth Law Office now. Call (918) 879-1681 or set up your consultation using the form at the top of this page.