OKC VeloCity | Criminal Justice Reform efforts continue to reduce the daily average jail population

Criminal Justice Reform efforts continue to reduce the daily average jail population

By Chamber Staff / Policy / December 30, 2020

Oklahoma County continues to see a downward trend for jail population, reaching a 20-year low of 1,624 for FY 2020.

The average of 1,624 demonstrates an almost two-year trend of jail populations regularly under 1,700. Going back just a few years to the end of FY 2017, the one-day jail population for June 30, 2017 was 2,237. Going back even further to the end of FY 2004, the one-day jail population for June 30, 2004 was 2,617.

“These numbers really show the hard work being done by partner agencies in the Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC),” said Timothy Tardibono, CJAC executive director. “These numbers are definitely worth celebrating, but everyone sitting around the table knows there is still more work to do as we safely reduce our jail population even more. As a result, we will have a more fair and effective county justice system.”

The average daily population number isn’t the only highlight worth celebrating. Oklahoma County is also sending far fewer individuals on to state incarceration than in previous years, dropping from 2,334 in FY 2018, to 2,043 in FY 2019 to only 1,699 in FY 2020.

“Clearly the work of our diversion partners is making a difference in these numbers. With the opening of the Diversion Hub and all of the MAPS 4 projects on tap in the future, the combination of mental health programs and substance abuse efforts, these all work together to heal our community and reduce future demand on the system,” said Tardibono.

Oklahoma and Tulsa counties provide the highest volume of prisoners to the state corrections department, so the work being done in Oklahoma County makes a difference in corrections at the state level, not just in our local jails.

Another bright spot of activity is the continued upgrade of data systems. One of the top issues cited by the Vera Institute in their original analysis of Oklahoma County’s system was the lack of reliable data for decision-making.

The Public Defender’s office and the District Attorney implemented new systems in FY20 and the Sheriff’s office, in connection with the Jail Trust Authority, are implementing a new system that will launch in January.

In early 2021, the court and diversion programs are implementing a phone app that will help clients of the court manage their case, receiving text reminders about court dates, testing deadlines or other dates that are vital to keeping their case on track.

The final data project in progress is the creation of a dashboard and tracking mechanism. The CJAC is working with Open Justice Oklahoma, which created a similar dashboard for Tulsa County.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2020 edition of The Point.

 

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