Former employee, inmate speak out on Oklahoma County Jail conditions after weekend hostage situation, inmate death

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A former employee of the Oklahoma County Jail and a former inmate spoke with KFOR about allegations that inmates are not being properly fed, a claim that came out in a Facebook Live during a hostage situation inside the jail over the weekend, which led to the shooting death of an inmate. 

“That was a coworker I actually worked along side of,” Alec Scholten told News 4. 

Scholten, a former employee of the Oklahoma County Jail, is talking about a detention officer who was held hostage by inmates on the 10th floor of the jail over the weekend. 

It was broadcast by the inmates over Facebook live. 

“I felt scared for him because obviously, I’ve been in that position in the pods and I just know what it’s like in there,” Scholten said. 

Inmates in the video are heard demanding working water and food. 

“We got no food. We cant take showers,” an inmate said. 

The inmates were also heard saying this had nothing to do with the detention officer, but that they were simply demanding change inside the jail. 

One of the inmates involved, identified as Curtis Williams, was eventually shot and killed by Oklahoma City police. 

In a press release, officials with Oklahoma City Police Department said Williams had a makeshift weapon at the throat of the detention officer. 

“It definitely appears like things have even gone further downhill,” Scholten said. 

Scholten said back when he worked there last year, just before the Jail Trust took over operations of the jail, there were issues getting inmates meals in a timely manner, due to staffing issues. 

“There is only so much as one person we can do. So, when you have to feed a thousand people or 400-500 people per floor, that gets extremely difficult and obviously people are getting fed later than they should be getting fed,” he said.

News 4 spoke with a former inmate, who wanted to remain anonymous, about these alleged issues too. 

“You barely get anything to eat. So you’re there all night, starving,” he said. “Dogs in dog pounds, they get treated better.”

Jail Trust officials have repeatedly denied these allegations. 

News 4 reached out to Jail Administrator Greg Williams on Monday requesting an interview and we never heard back. 

However in recent weeks, Williams has confirmed the jail is currently short staffed. 

In an email to News 4 on Saturday, another former employee anonymously said: 

“During the 4pm-12am shift there are typically on 4 officers on duty, meaning 1 officer manning 4 pods on multiple floors. There are never more than 1 officer in a single pod. This lack of staffing is extremely dangerous. What happened to today is a result of that and Greg Williams (CEO) is negligent about this ongoing issue.”

News 4 did not receive a response from Williams about that allegation either. 

“I’m really hoping that something can change about the conditions in that place,” Scholten said. 

On Monday afternoon, News 4 received a letter sent to Williams by the jail’s medical service, Turn Key, that they will be canceling their contract with the jail unless the jail can increase staffing numbers by April 29th. 

This would be effective on May 31st, if staffing numbers are not increased. 

Chair of the Jail Trust, Tricia Everest, told News 4 over the phone Monday evening that they are still dealing with a staffing problem. 

“The events of this weekend clearly show that and as we are debriefing and regrouping from the tragic events of this weekend, DOC reached out and offered staffing assistance,” Everest said. 

Everest said ODOC is now bringing in staff support. She said one shift started Monday afternoon and a second shift started at five p.m.

In response to the letter from Turn Key, Everest said: “Safety is paramount for all of those in the detention, including and especially those that contract with us.”

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