OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – A multi-county grand jury has released it’s findings addressing the Oklahoma County Detention Center.
According to the nineteenth multi-county grand jury report the issues addressed were the following:
- Trust Indenture Creating the OCCJA concluded that one primary reason to return to the Sheriff-administered jail structure is that, at a minimum, the sheriff, an elected official, can be held accountable through the election process. The investigation further discovered that no member of the OCCJA has training or experience in the administration of a correctional facility.
- The OSDH has been a driving force in outlining problems with the OCDC for the last two years. Their concerns have been expressed in multiple inspections highlighting deficiencies and repeat deficiencies.
- Financial Irregularities with the use of CFO’s personal credit card was due to the lack of government purchasing experience which led to the issue when reviewing Oklahoma County’s fraud risk audit. The audit uncovered a problem with purchasing related to the jail. The CFO was reimbursed for purchases made on a personal credit card for alleged jail operations expenses. The expenses were determined to be for the benefit of the OCDC.
- The Oklahoma County Detention Center Facility investigation discovered design and construction problems that have caused significant issues and led to an unsafe environment for inmates. Insect infestation has and continues to be a concern for inmates – primarily problems with bedbugs.
- Jail death was the biggest single problem as the facility has a large number of inmate deaths that have occured since the OCCJA assumed management from the Oklahoma County Sheriff on July 1, 2020. Three significant issues within the jail and the administration are believe to have contributed to the significant number of deaths. Each death according to the investigation was a seperate, potential homicide case within the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma County District Attorney. Some investigations have been submitted while others have not. One, inadequate controlled substance interdiction, two inadequate health screening during the intake process, and three the failure of detention officers to conduct proper site checks on inmates. Last, illness was listed in the report as the predominant cause of death in the jail.
- Hiring issues was also included which the report cited a inability of the administration of the OCDC to properly staff the jail with experienced employees.
- Alleged real estate development conspiracy was found to have no merit, no evidence of wrongdoing was discovered.
- Potential obstruction between OCDC in house attorney and Oklahoma County District Attorney after all allegations have been considered it was not determined whether these allegations were “obstruction” per criminal statues. Additional information is being requested, and at the completion of the investigation the decision will be made whether to refer to the OSBI for further investigation.
After it’s lengthy investigation of the jail trust and oversight of the detention center, the recommendation is for the trust to be dissolved and handed over to the county sheriff as it was prior to the trust’s formation.
The report can be found here.
Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority Response To Grand Jury Report said,
“When I accepted the position of interim CEO in January, I did so in order to help
lead and guide the transformation of the facility into a top tier corrections
operation,” said Brandi Garner, Interim CEO Oklahoma County Detention Center.
“As we continually strive for improvement, we continually look for ways to make
strides towards achievable goals. We look forward to reviewing the Grand Jury’s
“The jail trust cooperated with the Grand Jury investigation and will carefully
review the report,” said Ben Brown, acting Chair of the Oklahoma County Criminal
Justice Authority. “The members of the trust and new management at the jail will
continue our work to improve jail operations. “
Sara Bana of The People’s Council for Justice Reform agreed with the grand jury’s recommendation.
“It was a relief, and it was a confirmation of the truth that so many people had been bringing about, including many of the victims and survivors and many of the former employees inside the county jail,” she said. “We recognize that if the sheriff were to take over the county jail tomorrow and he recognized that he did not have the adequately trained staff to take care of that facility, that he would pick up the phone and call the federal Department of Justice for assistance and relief, versus the continued negligence that we are seeing from the Criminal Justice Authority, a.k.a. jail trust.”