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Lawmakers Ask US Attorney General To Intervene At Oklahoma County Jail

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Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus
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Members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus are calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to help with the Oklahoma County Jail.

In a letter to Garland, Rep. Jason Lowe (D-Oklahoma City) said 10 inmates have died there since the county’s jail trust took over operations from the sheriff last July, four detention officers were recently charged with assault and battery on inmates, and one detention officer was held hostage. Lowe, a criminal defense attorney, described the day in, day out conditions as "horrendous."

"From the bedbugs to mold to lack of access to medical care and basic health and hygiene needs, it is clear that what is taking place at the Oklahoma County Jail is a civil rights violation that deserves the attention of our federal government," Lowe said.

While the Black Legislative Caucus is made up of Democrats, Lowe said the letter to Garland is not about politics.

"And this is not even a racial issue. A white woman died, 65 years of age, a week ago in the Oklahoma County jail. So, this is not about race, this is not about our political affiliation. This is about making sure that the citizens of Oklahoma have a proper jail," Lowe said.

Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-Oklahoma City) said part of the request to the attorney general is for help getting state lawmakers information about what else has been going on in the jail.

"We want to know how many deaths, incidents of inhumane reports have been reported in the last five years. We want to know how many inmates and officers have been attacked," Pittman said.

Lowe said he would like to see a sales tax dedicated to building an entirely new jail.

Members of the Black caucus did not meet with Garland during his visit to Oklahoma for the bombing memorial.

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