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.
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