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Average Oklahoma County jail population on downward trend, but disparities still exist

The average inmate population at the Oklahoma County jail has stayed below 1,700 people for over a year, a downward trend after nearly two decades of populations routinely above 2,000.

The decline in numbers is being attributed to diversion programs, collaboration between local judges, changes in state law and dedicated funding to address mental health and substance abuse issues.

Tim Tardibono, executive director of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council, also known as CJAC, presented the numbers to Oklahoma County officials during a meeting Thursday.

“We have multiple programs focused on how do we divert people from the criminal justice system, and that is why those numbers are so low,” Tardibono said. “Months of their work has made progress.”

Disparities in the jail population still exist, though.

Black individuals make up 34% of the jail’s population despite accounting for only about 16% of Oklahoma County’s population, Tardibono said.

“Those numbers are still not great,” he said.

The jail is still overcrowded, as well. When it was built in the early 1990s, the building was meant to hold 1,200 inmates.

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