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This judge visits the Oklahoma County jail on weekends to let some offenders out

It may be the only time he gets away with catcalling a judge. On her weekend mission to release certain inmates from the Oklahoma County jail, Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong, trading the black robe of the bench for blue jeans and a blazer, walked into the receiving area Saturday with a smile on her face and an armful of tacos. She was accompanied by two female outreach workers. To the delight of his fellow detainees, and over a backing track of clinking handcuffs, an inmate in the holding tank clawed at the metal mesh screen, whistled, and belted out a soulful but inappropriate “Heyyyyyyyyy!”

Inured to these weekly scenes, Truong delivered the tacos to jail staffers and set to work. Each weekend for the last three months, she has issued about 15 releases for inmates facing nonviolent charges. “I have a stack of who was arrested last night and eligible for prerelease,” she said, pointing to paperwork for a man brought in on a failure-to-appear warrant stemming from bogus check charges. “I don't let them all out. Just because they're eligible doesn't mean I approve them. I don't do DUIs unless there is some assurance that there is treatment or a program.” The work is part of a larger effort in the county to reduce jail overcrowding. At its peak, the Oklahoma County jail ran at double its capacity, with more than 2,400 inmates packed into the 13-story cloverleaf building rising above downtown bail bond shops just east of Classen Boulevard. In January, the average daily population of the jail was 1,769 inmates, according to figures released by the sheriff's office. “When you decrease the population as all of these efforts have, it takes a lot of stress and strain off the system,” said Mark Opgrande, spokesman for the sheriff's office. “It's allowing us to fix up some of the pods, do some reconstruction, painting and cleaning up. Whenever you have a huge population, it puts a lot of stress on the system. Of course, the staff who work there, it puts stress on them and it puts stress on the inmates too.”

In the receiving area, an inmate approached a counter, across from which Truong stood with her stack of paperwork, mulling over whom to release. Read more at


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