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Oklahoma County awaits federal response on jail

Leaders in Oklahoma County are awaiting feedback from the Department of Justice on whether the agency will force a tax increase to pay for improvements to the county jail.

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Modified: October 15, 2013 at 9:58 am •  Published: October 15, 2013

Oklahoma County leaders have notified the U.S. Department of Justice that they've done all they can to improve conditions at the county jail without any new funding from a tax increase.

In 2008, the Justice Department determined that inmates were receiving negligent medical care in unsafe conditions, and county officials reached an agreement at the time to institute major upgrades or build a new facility. That agreement expires in November 2014.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma County commissioners said they had to explain to the Justice Department why the county jail still isn't up to standards. The jail, which has a capacity for about 3,000 inmates, has been plagued by problems since it opened in 1991.

Commissioners sent a letter updating the federal government shortly before the shutdown Oct. 1, and the county has not yet received a response.

District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan said he's confident that the issue has been taken care of appropriately, even though voters have shown little interest in a bond issue to pay for improvements.

"I just don't think that the remaining issues merit the DOJ coming in and taking us over," he said. "I just don't get any indication from them in our briefings that that's the case. They have given us accolades about the work we've done.

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