The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 8, 2012

County closer to fix for jail holding cells

NORMAN — The problem with day-holding cells for prisoners awaiting court hearings in Cleveland County may be closer to a solution.

County commissioners this week approved an architectural plan to convert some of the courthouse’s third-floor space into holding cells. Ironically, part of the area to be converted was part of the original county jail, used before the “new” jail was opened in the mid 1980s.

The problem came with the opening of the county’s detention center on Franklin Road, east of U.S. Highway 77. Prisoners need to be available for court hearings and need to be held in a secure space. They used to be just a few feet away from courtrooms.

The county was initially placing prisoners in a judge’s conference room. The fire marshal shut down a plan to convert some basement space into a holding cell. Currently, they are being held in the old jail on the west side of the county office building.

The new holding cells will be paid for out of the county’s jail sales tax, which is generating more than $500,000 a month. When the space is converted, we look for commissioners to move forward on tearing down the old jail.

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