Oklahoma County Jail Trustee quits over lack of funding for operations at the jail

OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – On Monday, a member of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust resigned and called out the county budget board for not allocating enough funds that are needed to run the day-to-day operations at the Oklahoma County Jail.

Sue Ann Arnall says this has been an ongoing battle for years that she’s tired of fighting.

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This week, Arnall sent her letter of resignation to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority.

In the letter, she said her decision to resign has not come lightly, but her pleas to the county budget board to adequately fund the jail have fallen on deaf ears for far too long.

“I’ve been very supportive and worked with her on these efforts that she’s mentioning. And I share in her disappointment that many of them were not pursued or achieved. I think it’s a big loss to the trust, but I understand why it was important for her and for the community to hear her concerns and the reasoning why she decided to depart, to depart from the trust,” said Jess Eddy, community organizer.

On Monday, Sue Ann Arnall sent a strong message to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority. She called out the county budget board for not prioritizing the Oklahoma County Jail.

“I truly do believe by Sue Anne, making the choice to remove herself from the jail trust, it’ll send probably a stronger message as it relates to more funding that’s needed to run the day-to-day operations of the jail trust, then, if she would have remained on the Jail Trust,” said Derrick Scobey, jail trust member.

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In Arnall’s letter of resignation, she wrote, “For years now, I have asked the County Budget Board to allocate enough funds to the jail for it to operate at an adequate level.”

She goes on to say, “The jail trust does not have a voice on the county budget board.”

Community organizer, Jess Eddy agrees with her claims.

“We do have five years until we’ll see another facility and we have to take care of the people in the current facility. And that means we have to invest in that facility,” said Eddy.

Arnall says the Oklahoma County Jail needs more funding to fill staffing positions and improve the condition of the building and treatment of the people inside.

Member of the jail trust, Pastor Derrick Scobey says he agrees with Arnall’s concerns. However, there is not enough money to go around.

“I say ditto to what she’s saying. But at the same time, I am not trying to crucify the Oklahoma County Budget Board because they’re looking saying, I don’t know where the money is now. Maybe some money, a little money could be pulled from here, pull from there. But that’s not the kind of money we need. We need we need far more money,” said Scobey.

Scobey says to see a real change inside the Oklahoma County Jail, there would need to be over 20-million dollars to cover the cost and that would in turn fall on the Oklahoma County taxpayers.

“You can only raise property taxes so much by law, you can only raise them so much. So, there has to be some type of sales tax that that, you know, is voted on and ultimately approved in order for us to have the type of money that we really need for the operational expenses of the jail,” said Scobey.

A look inside the Oklahoma County Jail as renovations are underway

The members of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority issued the following statement concerning the resignation of member Sue Ann Arnall.

Ms. Sue Ann Arnall was one of the founding members of the Criminal Justice Authority. Her insight and dedication to improving the lives of employees and detainees will be deeply missed. With her support, changes have and continue to be made at the detention center. Remodeling is underway in the booking area, but more is needed. All members of the Trust appreciate her effort and in her an absence will continue to work to toward her and the Authority’s goals.”

You can see the press release below:


KFOR also reached out to the Oklahoma County Jail to ask some follow up questions to Arnall’s claims.

In reference to renovations being made at the Jail, a spokesperson sent KFOR the following pictures of holding cells that are currently receiving renovations. You can see the pictures below.

The Oklahoma County Jail also answered some questions KFOR had following Arnall’s accusations. You can read the statements below:

The press release from the trust was referring to renovations and not remodeling that are underway. Our efforts will make it as safe, clean, and livable as we can until we move into a new facility.  The renovations include deep cleaning, sanitizing, sealing, and painting the intake holding cells and floor areas. The employee work areas are being improved as well, including new filing cabinets, furniture, and equipment, deep cleaning and painting to create a better working environment for our staff.

We do agree the jail needs more funding. We would like to increase the starting salary to provide employees with pay commensurate with other agencies, such as DOC and other county jails. We need to turn the jail into a career for those who want to work in law enforcement and corrections. We have had a lot of employees choosing to leave for higher paying jobs, some in law enforcement/corrections and others in the general work force. Every county in Oklahoma has a dedicated law enforcement tax, except Oklahoma County.

The starting pay for a Detention Officer is $39,866,32 per year, with a raise at 90 days. After 1 year a Detention Officer is making less than the starting rate of a new Detention Officer at the Department of Corrections and many other jails near Oklahoma County. We must be able to provide a living wage to attract qualified applicants to fill our ranks. We need more employees to fill our ranks to continue our efforts to make the jail a safer and more secure place for residents and staff.

KFOR also reached out to all of the Oklahoma County Commissioners for a statement. You can read them below.

Carrie Blumert, Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner:

“I am extremely grateful for Ms. Arnall’s service on the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority. Her passion to make our criminal justice system more equitable and treatment focused is very needed at Oklahoma County and I am disappointed to hear of her resignation as a trustee. I look forward to continuing working with her on jail diversion programs and anything that helps folks navigate our justice system.”

Brian Maughan, Oklahoma County District 2 Commissioner:

“Sue Ann Arnall’s resignation from the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority is a huge loss.  As a founding member, Arnall was instrumental in bringing about significant changes within the detention center.  Her leadership, dedication, and commitment will be missed, as she played a role in improving and advancing effective management at the current facility.  I appreciate the close to 5 years she spent making a difference.”

Myles Davidson, Oklahoma County District 3 Commissioner:

“Sue Ann Arnall has been influential from the beginning of the trust formation. Her leadership in tumultuous times and ability to listen to the voices of Oklahoma County cannot be measured nor can the loss her resignation brings.

I appreciate her service and commitment to the trust. I share her disappointment in the ongoing issues regarding the current jail and hope to resolve these problems soon.

She has become a friend to me and I will miss her.”

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