The Norman Transcript

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May 8, 2012

Old jail’s use reconsidered

NORMAN — Commissioners propose temporary holding facility for youth offenders

One county commissioner said corrections professionals are displaying a renewed interest in using the old Cleveland County jail as a temporary holding facility for youth offenders.

“There might be some need in the state that Cleveland County might be able to fill on a temporary basis,” District 1 Commissioner Rod Cleveland said. “It might make sense that we could fill a void for them (the state) — not permanently in the jail, but temporarily.”

At the 9 a.m. Monday commissioners meeting, he said plans are “just all speculation,” but he’s got a rough idea.

“We’d provide a short-term solution for OJA (the Office of Juvenile Affairs),” Cleveland said. “The problem is we don’t have the money, and we’re not going to come up with another vote to build something new.”

Cleveland said the project would need to “make sense” for the community and the state’s juvenile justice agency. Ideally, this would mean the state would help fund the renovations while also allowing the county to retain operational control of the facility.

Sullivan still for storage: District 3 Commissioner Rusty Sullivan — whose April 30 motion to transform the old jail into a cold storage facility failed to achieve a majority vote — said after the meeting that he’d be willing to consider converting the old jail to a youthful offender facility.

Previously, however, he said he thought housing youthful offenders in the old jail would cost the county a vast amount of money.

“We’ve addressed this once,” Sullivan said. “It was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it. If the state’s willing to put up the money, we can look into it. I’ll certainly listen to them and see what they want to say.”

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