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A mold problem persists at Oklahoma County jail

The Oklahoma County jail has been undergoing remediation for mold for over a year. In that time, only about half of the facility has been cleaned, according to Stacey Trumbo, the county engineer.

Trumbo told the Oklahoma County commissioners that the high population of the jail has made it difficult for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office to find space to move inmates out of their cells so that workers can remediate the spaces for mold.

“Everybody’s frustrated with that,” Trumbo said. “The sheriff’s office, my office, I’m sure you as commissioners will be frustrated with that.”

Commissioners approved a change to the $300,000 contract that was approved last year with a mold remediation firm. The change provides $15,125 more for the firm to clean the mold out of jail pods.

Trumbo told commissioners that the pod is one of four areas at the jail that has been affected by extensive mold growth. Presently, the pod is empty, which will make it easier for workers to clean the mold.

Mold growth has been an issue at the county jail for years. Dozens of inmates filed a civil rights lawsuit concerning the hazardous conditions they were exposed to at the county jail. Mold growth was one of those conditions. County officials determined that the lawsuits were a part of a moneymaking scheme that was arranged by an attorney for the jail. The attorney referred to himself as “Arizona”.

Kevin Calvey, the Commissioner for District 3, asked why workers couldn’t just use a solution containing bleach to get rid of the mold growth on the walls. Trumbo explained that the mold issue had become so severe that bleach would not be effective. She said that while it might be able to clear the mold off the walls and floors, a bleach solution wouldn’t work to clean the mold that has crept into the ceilings.

An attorney for the sheriff’s office, Danny Honeycutt, said that the jail staff never used bleach to clean mold growth in the facility in the past because the previous administrator for the jail wouldn’t allow bleach on the premises. In 2017, when Sheriff P.D. Taylor took office, he began to permit the use of bleach to clean mold growth.

The county’s director of facilities management, Keith Monroe, said that the problem would not be totally solved until the ventilation system in the jail is repaired. He said that multiple vents outside the showers that are supposed to move damp air are broken, so there’s no circulation. As a result, moisture lingers in these areas, which has led to mold growth.

The county has had a hard time finding replacement parts for the ventilation system. On several occasions, officials for the jail had to order specially-made parts, which added to the time and expense of repairing the vents.

Mold Inspection & Testing Oklahoma City has vast experience performing mold assessments in the city. We strongly urge officials of the Oklahoma County Jail to make arrangements for mold tests with a qualified company to ensure the safety of inmates and staff. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 405.595.0748.

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