The following is attributable to Jill Webb, Legal Director:
“The news stories coming out of several Oklahoma county jails are just a snapshot of the issues we know take place within our criminal justice system. The ACLU of Oklahoma applauds Nowata County Sheriff Terry Sue Barnett’s refusal to reopen Nowata County Jail amid condition concerns for staff and people being detained. Unfortunately, dangerous jail and prison conditions are nothing new to Oklahoma. Whether it’s overcrowding, lack of medical treatment, understaffing, or building maintenance, thousands of Oklahomans are subjected to dangerous and dehumanizing conditions all before they have been convicted of a crime.”
The following is attributable to Nicole McAfee, Smart Justice Campaign Manager:
“While Oklahoma’s criminal justice system continues to make national news, locally legislators have several options on the table this session that begin to address our mass incarceration crisis, including the 70% of Oklahomans who are being detained in county jails pre-trial, meaning they have yet to be convicted of a crime and are presumed innocent. Our county jails are one of the core drivers behind Oklahoma’s title as the number one incarcerator in the world, with people being held pre-trial, for weeks, months, or years simply because they cannot afford bail. Pre-trial detention creates enormous pressure to plead guilty under any terms and can lead to worsened case outcomes. The potential this session for meaningful reform can provide some relief to counties who in the current system feel they must make decisions that risk the safety of people in their custody and the safety of the jail staff.”
# # #