Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sheriff John Whetsel has a Solution

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel has a
Solution to the Jail Problem:
Let it Blow up and Get Lots of Prisoners and Officers Killed
to Force a Federal Takeover

  Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel was in the news again a few weeks back after Oklahoma City Police publically complained about security risks caused by allowing up to 100 prisoners to roam around the jail.

  Fox 25 ran a story after Oklahoma City Police complained about the security risks and the massive increase in booking time for new prisoners.  Long waits are now the norm for incoming arrests with some spending days sitting in the holding cells that are designed for several hour stays.  The prisoners were not handcuffed and were roaming around freely according to police officers.   Sheriff Department spokesmen claimed it was an antiquated air conditioning system that was so old that parts had to be custom made.  Which of course is an outrageous lie; all air conditioning systems use the same sort of parts that are freely available from a variety of sources.   Claims were made that two of the three elevator systems were broken, again something that is easily fixed by the company that installed the elevators and it is mandatory that elevators be regularly inspected and maintained according to the building codes.  The reality is that Whetsel has long ago siphoned off maintenance funds into building his empire and having deputies troll the interstates for property seizures.
  The security risk is immense when armed officers bring in new arrests and have to complete the paperwork, focusing on that and not their personal security or if an inmate might be sidling up to attack, to take one of them hostage with a smuggled in knife or improvised weapon.

  Whetsel has had his staff blame the influx on new police officers being untrained in booking and in making too many arrests, something that Oklahoma City Police is quick to deny.    In fact there has been numerous meetings between the Sheriff Department and the Police Department but Whetsel refuses to address the issues, preferring to blame the jail itself for being in disarray.  It is a poor craftsman that blames his tools goes one old saying.

  But the real story behind the current crisis is simply that Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel is building a pressure cooker bomb that is little different than the Boston Bombers used.  Whetsel wants a new third billion dollar jail and he knows that the public won’t support the tax to fund it so his solution is to explode the jail and force the feds to take over and order a new jail built.

  Whetsel is orchestrating all of this by packing the jail full of inmates like cattle cars headed to Auschwitz.    It wasn’t that long ago that County Commissioner Brian Maughan first spoke out against funding a new jail and then flip flopped to supporting the new jail, allegedly because Whetsel promised to support Maughan’s Shine Program.  Then, as the story goes, Whetsel spoke out against the Shine program which would have diverted people from being in jail and Whetsel needs more bodies to stoke the boiler so it will explode.

  That set up a power struggle between the county commissioners and Whetsel.  Maughan then starts helping to get the word out to embarrass Whetsel over the jail overcrowding and why the jail is suddenly packed past capacity.  There are other players involved, you have Ravitz who is the Oklahoma County Public Defender, pushing the pre trial release program along with Maughan.  They recently asked for a 2.2 million dollar budget, and increase from the current 1.6 million budget but it was denied.  Ravitz and Maughan wanted to implement a program called the Ohio Risk Assessment System, a liberal soft on crime program that supposedly can predict which arrests will re offend by asking seven questions by a shrink.  The program supposedly has only a 23% success rate yet the program is being sold as the cure all for jail and prison overcrowding.

  And there are other issues leading to the overcrowding at the County Jail.  Whetsel gets a budget of around 50 to 60 million dollars for running the jail but he doesn’t spend that money running the jail; he uses the money for his patrol programs such as K-9 program, Reserve Deputy program, Tactical Unit program, school resource programs, or drug interdiction programs out on the Interstate Highways.  
  To meet the financial needs of running the jail Whetsel brings in state prisoners.  Around 191 state inmates are currently being held on a long term program that pays Whetsel around $35.00 per day including medical care, which is not being paid so Whetsel is being sued.  Some of these prisoners are in protective custody meaning more money is spent keeping them away from the general population.  Then there is the DOC pre reception center that is booking a bus load of prisoners every day and that center is being hosted by Whetsel according to one of our sources and those prisoners provide a daily fee of $35.00 each.  In all it is alleged that up to 400 state prisoners are held at any one time, providing Whetsel with an off budget slush fund of nearly a half million dollars per month.

  Now these state prisoners have to be kept according to state standards.  So cells that can hold four men are emptied out and two state prisoners are put in their place.  Recreational hours are mandated, certain amounts of medical care, all of which skyrockets Whetsel’s budget. But the Oklahoma County taxpayer pays for all of this, not the DOC.  And who are these convicts?  Robbers, rapists, child molesters, desperate men some with histories of escape attempts.  And when one of those buses roll in everything else stops while the paying customers are taken care of.

  Last year Whetsel was in the news begging for more money saying he had 50 vacant staff positions he couldn’t fill and moaning about the state taking prisoners from his jail.  Part of his problem is that the jail staff is top heavy with supervisors, cronies that are making around $8,000 per month as opposed to the Detention Officers making one fourth that amount.  Can’t fire the loyalcronies that are sitting on their butts doing paperwork or cruising Ashley all day can we?

  Overseeing all of this is a lowly Detention Officer that has two weeks of “training” consisting of meetings in the hallways or side rooms of the jails, with accreditation supervisors hand feeding them the test question answer so that more of them pass the accreditation.  No classroom setting, no real honestly graded tests, and after which these high school aged recruits are put in charge of murderers and rapists.  Some are gang members wanting to funnel drugs into the jail.

  At any given time there will be around 100 arrests either in holding cells, roaming around loose  or handcuffed to the wall.  Around 200 people per day are being booked including the DOC paying customers.   And there is no nice way to put this;  prisoners handcuffed to the rails piss and shit in their pants as there are not enough staff present to escort them to a rest room.   Other prisoners that have been there for days are not released on bond because they have to be booked before a bondsman can release them.  Other city arrests are not booked because the jail staff knows that the city will release most of them without bond to ease overcrowding.  Why do the paperwork if the city cops are going to just let them out anyway is the thought.

  At any given time in the receiving area there are 100 criminals and about a fifth of that many good guys  if you include medical staff, jail staff, and cops bringing in arrests.  Outnumbered five to one is not a safe situation.   One day a city cop working the city desk was chased by a jail lieutenant for filming a fellow officer being cat called and grouped by inmates as she was trying to book another arrest.  The jail supervisor threatened to beat up the cop and arrest the cop for taking the cell phone video of the female cop being sexually harassed and the story states that a stream of Oklahoma City cops and Oklahoma County Deputies were headed toward the jail for a confrontation over the situation.

  Oklahoma County D.A. David Prater and his 2nd in command Scot Rowland were brought in to mediate a resolution of the crisis.    Nothing worked of course so the Oklahoma City Police rightfully complained to the media.

  Right now the population is around 2900 inmates.  Sending the DOC clients back to the state and promptly processing incoming arrests would send around 1200 inmates out of the jail, leaving plenty of room in the jail and plenty of staff if Whetsel would go back to fulfilling his primary responsibility of running the county jail.  Besides the jail, under Oklahoma statutes the sheriff is responsible for courthouse security,  training deputies and detention officers working the jail, transporting prisoners to court, medical facilities, to the DOC once they have been convicted, and to handle extraditions.  The sheriff also handles civil processes like warrants, subpoenas, evictions, and seizures of property but these are all self funded through fees.  He is required to inspect all county buildings once per year and make a report to the county commissioners and to dispose of abandoned livestock.  In Oklahoma County any need to patrol the unincorporated areas of the county is quite small as municipal police departments and the state police cover 95% of the county.

  Whetsel is a man on a mission and if it takes a few detention officer deaths, a few police officer deaths, or many inmate deaths to get his new jail he is not going to be deterred.  Whetsel will continue to choke the  jail until it blows and as usually refuse to accept any responsibilities and throw a few subordinates under the bus if needed.