Juvenile Justice


The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs, the state's juvenile justice agency, has launched a training program for its staff and outside law enforcement agencies to "improve interaction and outcomes with youth who are minorities."

"We know that our own data shows over-representation of children of color in Oklahoma's juvenile justice system," said the agency's interim executive director, Rachel Holt, in a press release.

Courtesy Tulsa County

A major step is taken toward start of construction of the new Family Justice Center. Tulsa County Commissioners approve opening negotiations with Manhattan Construction as project manager for the center. Commission Chief Deputy Michael Willis says they’re a little behind schedule, but should still be on track for a ground breaking in the spring.

Once a contract is signed with Manhattan, the company will work with architects to finalize plans for the Justice Center.

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Tulsa County takes a couple steps forward in criminal justice reform. A timeline is established for the new family justice center. Commissioner Karen Keith says environmental issues on the site shouldn’t be a big stumbling block. The facility will be located at 10 North Elwood, where Storey Wrecker currently sits. Architectural plans should be ready in October.

The county is also partnering with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Vera Institute of Justice on a criminal justice reform study. It will provide strategies on how to better deal with incarceration rates.


No action is taken on a request to re-visit a north Tulsa site already bypassed for a new juvenile justice center. Several people told County Commissioners they still oppose using the site at 36th Street North and Martin Luther King for the facility. Former State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre claims the landowner tried a backdoor approach to get around the opposition.

County Commissioner Karen Keith denies it, but says officials felt they needed to listen to the request, however, she told protestors she ‘doesn’t see it happening’.

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A $40-million bond issue for a new family justice center has been authorized, but the elusive search for a new location continues. Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith says the bond issue action was taken because of favorable interest rates. It doesn’t mean a site search is over. Though locations until now haven’t panned out for one reason or another, Keith says about three are under consideration, and she hopes a deal is close.

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It’s NOT back to square one on the search for a location for a Family Justice Center, but the latest opportunity for a site has fallen through. Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith says the long stalled jail negotiations got in the way. She says citizens are on board, but some in the city of Tulsa, specifically ‘the Mayor’ have unanswered questions. She is optimistic disagreements can be solved and a site chosen in the near future.

Courtesy Tulsa County

After a ‘firestorm’ of controversy, Tulsa County will withdraw an offer for land at 36th Street North and MLK Boulevard where a new juvenile justice center was to be built. Following neighborhood opposition and complaints from area elected officials, County Commissioners will be withdrawing an offer for the land. Commissioner Karen Keith still thinks it’s a good site, but says the controversy which she claims was fueled by ‘misinformation’, doomed the deal.


Tulsa Jail

Prison overcrowding is, unfortunately, a well-known nationwide phenomenon. It's also a familiar and quite serious problem here in our own backyard, as it were, and thus many local residents feel that if we don't step up and take action, it's only going to worsen --- that is, it'll go from very bad to even worse. On Tuesday, April 1st, Tulsa County voters will be asked to consider two sales-tax initiatives.

On this edition of ST on Health, guest host John Henning Schumann conducts an interesting conversation with Brent Wolfe, director of the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau. Most of us probably already know that Oklahoma's incarceration rate is alarmingly high --- our state ranks a shameful third in the nation in this regard --- but what might not be as commonly known is that many of these incarcerated adults began to run afoul of the law as juvenile offenders.