Oklahoma Community Plans for a Brand-New Jail

By Eric Althoff

PAULS VALLEY, Okla. — Garvin County, Oklahoma, located 60 miles south of the state capital of Oklahoma City, has been using the same prison for so long that it’s in need of total replacement rather than a renovation, justice leaders believe. 

A new facility, to be called the Garvin County Detention Center, would replace the jail built in 1974, according to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.  Initial ideas favored a renovation of the old jail, but Rhodes believed a more thorough modernization, from the ground up, was called for.

“Initially the plan was to design a renovation to the current jail. After several months of meeting with an architect who had performed other projects at our courthouse, it was decided that renovation to the exiting jail facility would not be a good use of taxpayers’ money,” Rhodes said in an email to Correctional News. 

Had the original renovation gone through, it would have renovated and expanded the current jail so that it encompassed the entire first floor of the county courthouse, the Pauls Valley Democrat reported

Rhodes said that during preliminary design, it became obvious that the old jail would not meet the county’s current and future needs. 

“The space we were limited to would not allow us to achieve the future needs of our detention center, such as an activity area, jail medical area and an increase in our capacity,” he said.  “The inability to expand the jail at its present site forced us to look at other options, one of which is constructing a new detention facility away from the courthouse.”

The Democrat report said that project architect Larry Blackledge believed that health codes would limit the capacity of a renovated jail to 102 up from the current 76—rather than the hoped-for number of 147. 

Rhodes, in conjunction with the Garvin County commissioners, is working to find a suitable site for the proposed jail.  One candidate is the former Southern Oklahoma Resource Center south of Pauls Valley, the county seat, the Democrat reported.

“At this time we are seeking proposals to design a new jail, and have met with several architects specializing in jail facilities,” Rhodes said.  “A suitable location and funding sources to build and operate a new jail are being considered.”