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Oklahoma County Jail's Average Daily Population On The Decline

Guards make their rounds on the eighth floor of the Oklahoma County Jail in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs
/
The Journal Record

A criminal justice advisory group in Oklahoma County reported that last year the county jail’s prisoner population reached its lowest levels in more than a decade. StateImpact’s Quinton Chandler reports. 

The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council believes local reform efforts are to thank for the smaller population. According to the report, the jail’s average daily population for the last year was 1,624 people. The population was higher by nearly 1,000 people on a single day in 2009.

Data suggests the prisoner count has steadily fallen since 2017 when county officials, nonprofits and community leaders began pursuing goals recommended by the Vera Institute of Justice to reduce jail overcrowding.

The council’s report notes that this year’s numbers have been skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Timothy Tardibono, the council’s executive director, says the latest population numbers are only slightly lower than the average daily population from the previous year.

Tardibono suggests in addition to local efforts to reduce the jail’s population, criminal justice reforms passed by Oklahoma voters and state lawmakers have likely helped reduce jail overcrowding and the number of prisoners Oklahoma County sends to state prison.

However, the data suggests stark racial disparities. In the last year, while 51% of county jail prisoners were white, 34% were black, 11% were hispanic and 4% Native American.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Quinton joined the team at StateImpact Oklahoma in 2017, focusing on criminal justice reporting. He is an OSU grad with degrees in Economics and Marketing who got his start in radio at KOSU. After graduation, Quinton served as Morning Edition Host/General Assignment Reporter at KBBI Radio in Homer, Alaska and Education Reporter at KTOO Public Media in Juneau, Alaska. Quinton loves writing, reading and has an intense relationship with his Netflix account.
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