In just three months, voters in Oklahoma County could be asked to approve a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to build a new jail.
The head of a committee formed to plan the adult-juvenile complex says the vote could be held as early as March. The price tag is roughly $350 million.
County Commissioner Ray Vaughn says if the plan is approved, officials would look for enough land to build a sprawling one-story complex. The current jail, opened in 1991, stands 13 stories and was the subject of a harsh critique by the U.S. Justice Department five years ago. Most of the problems outlined in that report have been addressed, but Sheriff John Whetsel says some deficiencies can only be fixed with a major remodeling or a new jail.
The present jail is a problem, has been for a long time. A March election doesn’t allow much time to convince the public to pay for a new one, but then, there’s probably no perfect time to make such a request.