From the day it opened, the downtown Oklahoma City jail – a bleak RoboCop-era chamber of imprisonment – has always been a troubled facility. If you wanna know how bad things are at the moment, read this article, or just conduct a simple Google search. It will reveal there’s already been one death in the facility this year, following six deaths last year. And those numbers are probably low!
As a result of the jail’s issues, the recent county commissioner races were very focused on criminal justice reform and either repairing or building a new facility. This leads to a very bizarre story that involves goofball county commissioners, inquisitive judges, pissed off sheriffs, and Valley Brook police officers doubling as bodyguards.
After hearing stories on the campaign trail of inmates being held too long at the Oklahoma County jail, a new county commissioner decided to do a head count of his own.
So, on Saturday morning, County Commissioner Kevin Calvey showed up at the jail with District Judge Cindy Truong and 16 others to conduct the check, only to be stopped by Sheriff P.D. Taylor for security reasons.
Quick aside – Kevin Calvey is a former Oklahoma lawmaker from the infamous Derplahoman caucus who’s made plenty of TLO headlines over the years. He’s also had a fair share of vulgar voicemails. That’s the type f quack the sheriff had to deal with.
“It was a bizarre deal,” the sheriff said.
The sheriff said Calvey and an aide would have been allowed to continue the count but not the others.
“The rest of these people, they can’t go in a pod with 140 inmates with locks that won’t work and inmates can pop out on them,” he said. “This is a maximum-security jail. You cannot have untrained people entering the jail. It’s a security violation.
In today’s age of digital communications, it’s always rude to just drop-in on someone, especially when the locks to their jail won’t work. What the hell? Is it just ‘maximum-security’ until your bosses come in to check things out?
Calvey, a former state representative, said he wanted to do the check because of discrepancies in how many inmates are in the jail and reports of inmates locked up too long. […]
“The obvious reason is, aside from the humanitarian aspect of it, that’s just a lawsuit waiting to happen on the county. So just to protect the taxpayer, we need to make sure that things are being done correctly. And evidently they’re not,” Calvey said.
About the sheriff, Calvey said, “I don’t know what’s he hiding. … He appears not to want any oversight.”
“There was a reason why we were there,” Truong said. “We were concerned because there are people in there that aren’t supposed to be in there. … We wanted to make sure that everybody is accounted for.”
It’s hard to tell if they’re more concerned with human welfare or the state being sued, but regardless of the intentions, it seems like people being locked up for no good reason is worth being investigated. Hopefully, in such a hostile environment, full of unlocked jail cells and pissed off jailers, they brought good back-up?
The judge said she recruited Valley Brook police officers to help with the check and provide security. She said they chose to do the check at lunch when inmates are locked in their cells.
Valley Brook cops must have seen everything by now, so it makes sense to bring them in for this unexpected swinging of the proverbial dick.
[…]The sheriff said he understood that Calvey and one aide planned to come Saturday to look at how inmates were fed “and then all of a sudden, with no notice, they show up with 18 people and they’re wanting to go floor to floor, cell to cell … and do some kind of a head count.”
In an email Friday, the commissioner’s aide wrote the sheriff’s general counsel: “Kevin and I would like to come view the food service this Saturday. We would like to tag along with the lunch service. How many people are serving food and at what time?”
In a later email, the aide wrote to the sheriff’s general counsel, “We were hoping to have a person accompany each person delivering food and to check the inmates names off of our list. How many people will you have delivering food?”
I have no idea what kind of scheme this was supposed to be, but wouldn’t it be easier just to do the headcount instead of having a bunch of people tag along for lunch service? Did the county think it would be more of a Trojan Horse move to pretend like they’re doing meal service inventory instead of what they actually ended up doing?
If the county folks who showed up had the true ambitions of freeing wrongly locked up folks, more power to them, but everything about this story is really weird, and begs us to wonder what the true politics between the county’s legal system and the jailers is like.