Our mission is to independently assess our community’s criminal justice system by analyzing the processes that lead to jail population, understanding how the decisions in the process are made, identifying the costs associated with processes and decisions, recommending priorities to responsibly reduce jail population with associated costs, and outlining long-term sustainability options.
An economical, efficient, and smart local justice system that reflects our values of fairness, compassion and good governance.
A system of pre-trial detention that effectively prioritizes public safety through data-informed and evidence-based practices.
Detention facilities that are safe and humane for both staff and detainees.
Community oversight that is sustainable and continually strives for efficiency.
OUR SIX-FOLD PLAN.
In an effort to address over-incarceration and issues plaguing the county-wide justice system, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber formed a task force to research and plan for reform on the local level.
In 2015, the task force received policy and research analysis and support from the Vera Institute of Justice, a renowned independent nonprofit national research and policy organization. Based on extensive observation and research, the Vera Institute found six major areas for improvements that now serve as the guide for all of CJAC’s work. Despite some constraints imposed by state law and a lack of resources, the majority of these strategies can be implemented at the local level through the collaboration forged by CJAC.
These efforts affirm a commitment to having a justice system in Oklahoma County that balances safety, justice and efficiency. Our community does not want to pay more for a system that keeps us less safe and results in harm to those involved. As these recommendations are being implemented by police, at the jail, and in the courts, our county is seeing significant change and a restoration of justice.
Provide transparency and accountability for the local justice system.
The Criminal Justice Advisory Council fulfills this role by fostering coordination. The council brings together a diverse group of business and community leaders, law enforcement, nonprofit service providers, attorneys, and judges to peruse and sustain meaningful, long-term reform. CJAC is tasked with finding data-driven solutions and implementing them throughout the county.
Keep those charged with lower-level offenses out of the jail entirely.
Approximately one-quarter of all jail admissions are for low-level municipal and traffic violations. Many of these individuals do not stay in jail long, but they account for much of the volume in booking and processing which slows other operations. Booking people into jail for low-level offenses makes little or no contribution to our community’s safety and preventing those individuals from entering jail at all improves efficiency.
Create effective, evidence-based processes for deciding who remains in jail pretrial and who goes home.
As many as 80% of people in the Oklahoma County jail are being held pretrial, and the ability to pay cash bail is the largest determinant of who stays in the jail before trial. Oklahoma County uses a bail schedule that sets the amount an individual will pay according to the crime they are charged with (but not yet convicted of), without consideration of circumstances. That means lots of people who stay in jail for long periods only do so because they cannot pay for their release. Strategies that account for the likelihood someone will appear in court or their risk to public safety would create a more equitable and efficient system.
Improve the processes that move cases through the court system.
While almost half of those who come into the jail are released within three days, another half linger in the jail as their cases proceed through the court system. Delays and inefficiencies keep people needlessly locked up for long stretches of time, which in no way improves public safety or ensures meaningful justice. CJAC partners with several county judges and attorneys to work toward solutions in the courts. Cases can move quicker by taking steps to shorten the time from arrest to formal charging and from charging to case resolution, as well as reducing failure to appear warrants.
Create alternatives to jail for people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
Data suggests there at least twice as many people in the Oklahoma County jail with mental illness than the general population, and the most common state misdemeanor and felony charges for jail inmates are drug and/or alcohol-related. Finding new resources and pathways to get people out of jail and into treatment forges long-term solutions that reduce recidivism and improve the quality of life and community. CJAC works with a robust array of community partners and nonprofits to provide holistic solutions to crime include drug and alcohol treatment, job training and placement, mental health services and stable housing.
Stop jailing people who don’t have money for not paying fines, fees and court costs.
There are at least 103 fines and fees codified in state statute and another 26 in municipal code. Individuals can easily become overwhelmed with thousands, if not tens-of-thousands of dollars’ worth of criminal justice debt. Jail incarceration is an ineffective and inhumane response to the default of debt that untimely cost the county taxpayers more money. Instituting more efficient and compassionate strategies can help reduce the number of people who land in jail for being indebted to the criminal justice system.
In late 2015, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber assembled a task force to look at our current criminal justice system in Oklahoma County. The task force was comprised of leaders and community members throughout the county and city that have an interest in improving our criminal justice system.
The task force and the Chamber contracted with the VERA Institute of Justice, the nation's preeminent organization in this field, to examine our system and help provide recommendations and expertise applicable to our situation. VERA’s research consisted of a nine-month audit of the county jail, county courts, the bail schedule and law enforcement practices. By the end of 2015, the research identified several issues culminating in severe overpopulation of the county jail and inefficiencies throughout the justice system.
The trust committed to taking a holistic approach, to reduce incarceration, increase efficiencies and better serve the community, in accordance with VERA Institute’s six recommendations. The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) was formed in early 2018 as a means of ensuring long-term accountability on those six areas of improvement.
In February 2018 the council selected executive director, Timothy Tardibono. The council has since created a network of business and community leaders, law enforcement, nonprofit service providers, attorneys and judges to reach every corner of the justice system. CJAC has worked in tandem with state-wide and county level reform efforts, as well as the independent Oklahoma County Jail Trust as they take over governance of the jail.
As a result, the jail population has dropped by nearly half, and long-term changes in the incarceration of those who commit low-level offenses as well as resources for those upon release from jail have culminated in drastic and ongoing improvements in Oklahoma county’s justice system.
Timothy Tardibono is our executive director. Tardibono was hired in early 2018 to lead the council.
He has lead innovative reforms that have resulted in the Oklahoma County Jail populating at its lowest since the early 1990's. His outreach efforts have brought hundreds of people through the jail on tours to see conditions and forge community-wide dedication to decarceration and jail alternatives.
Tardibono is an attorney and he has served as counsel and policy analyst to an Oklahoma Governor and an Oklahoma U.S. Senator, as well as public policy leadership in a variety of organizations. Tardibono is originally from Bethany, Oklahoma.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH MANAGER.
Erika Ashby is our Community Outreach Manager. Ashby has extensive experience in the fields of communication, administration and criminal justice and is passionate about civic service, community relations and criminal justice reform.
Ashby enjoys forging strong relationships with others to problem-solve, improve communities and assist those in need. She currently sits on the board for L.I.F.T. Ministries, which specializes in prison ministry at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center and Lexington Assessment and Reception Center.
Ashby previously worked for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and volunteered at Oklahoma’s Freedom House Adult & Teen Challenge addiction recovery center. In her free time, Ashby enjoys writing and is an Amazon bestselling author.