American Staff Writer

Area police officials want Cleveland County's new jail designed so officers can book prisoners in the facility and then "get out in a timely manner," one participate in a jail design meeting confirmed last week.

Moore Police Chief Ted Williams said jail architect Ben Graves met with "several" of the area's chiefs of police recently to discuss issues such as booking procedures, prisoner unloading and processing for the new facility.

"Mr. Graves wanted to know what issues they should look into in the new jail," he said. "And we were all petty much in agreement, we wanted to get our officers in, get the inmates processed and get the officer back out on the street as quick as possible."

Williams said he urged Graves to include additional work stations for police officers and a secure booking area in the jail's final design.

"We need several work stations," he said. "It streamlines things if officers can complete their reports and do some of that stuff at the jail."

Last week's meeting was the latest in a series of meetings about the jail's design.

In September Cleveland County commissioners voted unanimously to build a second county jail on a site along Franklin Road, east of U.S. 77. The county purchased the 29-acre plot of land south of the York-Johnson Controls plant for $1.3 million earlier this year.

Since then, Graves and several other county officials have held a series of meetings to gather information and make decisions about the jail's design.

Those meetings -- which include Cushing jail consultant Don Jones and Cleveland County sheriff Dwayne Beggs -- are expected to continue until early November.

Once the process is complete, Graves said he would take the information collected and use it to finalize a jail design.

However, before that design can be built it must be approved by state Fire Marshall Robert Doke and Don Garrison, supervisor of jail inspections for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In 2006, Garrison told Cleveland County commissioners they could face heavy fines or the closure of the jail if they didn't take steps to reduce the inmate population.

Garrison's office has continued to monitor the county's progress.

"We feel like these guys are moving as fast as they can," he said. "But it wasn't like that a few years ago. As far as I was concerned, then, they weren't making any progress at all."

Since then, Garrison said county officials have worked hard to develop a new jail and get that jail built.

"As long as they continue to make the progress they are making, we're probably not going to be too involved."

Still, Garrison's office must sign off on the jail's design. "Our job is to review the design and make sure they meet jail standards," he said. "We will thoroughly examine it."

And while Garrison said he didn't know when he would see the jail's final plans, he did express confidence in Graves, the jail's architect.

"I don't expect any problems with Ben Graves or AiP," he said. "We've got four or five architects in the state that we don't worry about at all. But it hasn't always been like that. When we began to push to get new jails built, we had some architects that had never built a jail, and we had a few problems."

Garrison said he stayed in "frequent contact" with Graves and with jail consultant Don Jones. "I'm real aware of what they are doing," he said. "I talk to Ben (Graves) and Don (Jones) nearly every day."

The big issue with the jails, he said, is inmate population.

"We've got eight jails under construction," he said. "And when they are finished, we will have completed 48 county jails which are either brand new or have been remodeled. But they are short of staff and overcrowded. Even most of the new ones are full and to be honest, I don't know what they are gonna do about that."

M. Scott Carter 366-3545 scarter@mooreamerican.com

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