Juvenile offender dies at Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center

TECUMSEH, Okla. – The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs says an 18-year-old female offender in its custody has died.

The Oklahoman reports the offender was housed at the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh when she was taken to a hospital following a “critical incident” Jan. 1. The nature of the incident wasn’t disclosed.

Agency spokeswoman Paula Christiansen says the woman’s family notified officials on Jan. 8 that she had died. The offender was not identified.

Officials say the incident is under investigation. Christiansen says it’s the first time a juvenile offender has died in custody since an offender died from a heart condition at least 15 years ago.

Executive director Steven Buck says the agency is providing trauma assistance to residents and staff involved in the incident.

Buck sent News 4 the following statement:

“On Tuesday evening, January 1st, a critical incident occurred on the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center (COJC) campus involving a resident of the facility. Unfortunately, the resident has passed away. Family members were able to spend time with her before her passing.

The entire OJA community and I are truly saddened by this tragedy. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to her grieving family. Organizationally, we have taken immediate steps to provide trauma assistance to both residents and staff involved in the emergent care of this young woman. OJA staff work heroically every day to help young people find successful trajectories, and I appreciate their professionalism and commitment to our mission.

The incident is being reviewed and a thorough investigation is currently being conducted. The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth also is reviewing the incident and our team’s subsequent response.

Oklahomans attempt suicide at a frequency greater than the national average. Please remind your loved ones and neighbors that help is available by calling 800-273-TALK (8255).”

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