Thursday, July 16, 2009

MAPS for Convics (a hastily-written post)

Oklahoma County politicians have begun lobbying for more than $390 million to build a new jail, or $436 million to renovate the existing jail. This, at a time when the City of OKC is anticipating a campaign to make the next step toward becoming a World-class City. The $390 million would build a new 3,376-unit jail on a 50-acre site that would require the additional hire of 400 employees. The reason for a new jail is that the current one, built as recently as 1991, is inherently flawed, which has led to numerous escapes, suicides, and so on.

Fuzzy math: 3,376 units would make the Oklahoma County Jail three times the size of "Big Mac", the State Pen in McAlister. Just to clarify, there are 706,617 residents in Oklahoma County, and 3,617,316 residents in all of Oklahoma, in case anyone was suddenly confused about which was bigger. Just up the turnpike, the Tulsa County Jail is a much less bloated facility, with 1,440, built in 2000 at a cost of $70 million. It also has a maximum capacity of 3,000--how'd they do that (Tulsa County has 591,982 residents..100,000 less than Oklahoma County). You know what, why the $#@% does Oklahoma County need a jail facility that is three times the size of Big Mac? This is insane.
"But the push for major upgrades grew after the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on the facility last year. The report, which cited lax supervision, inmate violence and excessive force by guards, threatened a federal lawsuit if a resolution wasn’t reached."
I'm not denying that what's going on at the OK County Jail is bad, which it is. The only problem is what does a major expansion and $390 million do to correct inmate violence? What does it do to change lax supervision? Can a $390 million building supervise 2,000 inmates that desperately want out? Here's an idea...hiring better guards? More guards?

Here's an idea..why don't we hire ten more "Gladiators"? You know, someone instructed to snap fingers, break arms, smash faces, and crush skulls! Or not..

What's more outraging: Oklahoma County politicans want this to be the next MAPS. Nevermind streetcar, a convention center, a central park, the Oklahoma River, or research improvements, or anything that actually improves Oklahoma. A streetcar system would revolutionize development in downtown by creating a huge development impetus, a central park would create a landmark space that Oklahomans can treasure for as long as it's there in the heart of our city, a convention center would bring in business from around the world, Oklahoma River projects would make an even bigger splash on the river, and investing in research incentives would help OKC become a bigger part of the new economy. What would a $390 million county jail do for us? When we don't even want to spend near that much on a new convention center, why should we even consider throwing more than $100 million into a jail, AT THE MOST? This is why the crooks at Oklahoma County need to be just gotten rid of and merged with the city government of OKC. County home rule, check it out..

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