It’s no secret that the Oklahoma County Jail is a sinking clusterfuck all across the board. Between a crumbling building, prisoners being locked up without being sentenced (or even getting lost altogether in the system), the presence of ICE agents, and several deaths, there isn’t much that the jail is doing well now.
On top of all the structural and administrative problems, now the people who actually work there are leaving en masse. After the county commissioners voted to install a trust to monitor goings-on at the jail, and elected an administrator last week, apparently many workers are just saying, “Screw this, I’ve had enough.
Here’s details from Fox 25:
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — At least three dozen senior staff and certified officers working for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office have resigned or retired so far this month.
Public information officer Mark Myers, with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the departures are due to uncertainty surrounding the Oklahoma County Jail Trust and future jail administrator.[…]
Myers said a resolution (No. 02-19) adopted Monday by the trust is what is upsetting employees and has many questioning their benefits.
Part of the resolution reads, “The Authority hereby states its intention to take actions to ensure that detention officers, as a group, are afforded employment security and retirement and health benefits comparable to those that they currently enjoy as Oklahoma county employees at such time as the Authority assumes operation of the Oklahoma County Detention Center.”
“But what does that mean? One of the great things working at OKC is the benefits. It’s not the pay,” Myers said. “We’re finding that people who have the years and can retire on the current county benefits, they’re doing that because they don’t want to wait around to see what this comparable benefits package is.”
It seems like there’s something else going on underneath the surface here. Maybe it’s because I’m used to not having any workplace benefits, but why would you go ahead and give up what you’ve already got over just the suspicion that they might change?
Perhaps its loyalty to Sheriff Taylor, who inherited the jail after Sheriff John Whetsel was in charge of the joint for decades? That seems like a stretch, because I distrust anyone who is hyperloyal to their workplace authority figure, but I also just distrust cops anyways so who knows what their motivation is. Taylor is obviously upset that his grip of power on the jail is becoming neutered, but if he wanted to retain control on operations, maybe he could have done a better fuckin’ job.
Personally, I think the installation of the trust appears to be a good thing. It’s always a positive to have outside oversight of a center where people are being detained. When said detention center is keeping people locked up in deplorable conditions without them receiving due process, maybe it’s time to kick out the old guards (no pun intended) and try something new.