OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A deadline given to administrators at the Oklahoma County Detention Center by the state health department to improve conditions inside the jail is now up and jail officials say they’ve submitted their corrective report.
“She was in there for over a week before they even let her take a shower,” Amber Richards told KFOR.
Richards contacted News 4 after her sister called her from inside the Oklahoma County Jail last week.
“She said it’s infested with cockroaches and bed bugs,” Richards said.
Bed bugs in cells, inmates not being fed on time and not receiving showers are some of the problems that the Oklahoma State Department of Health called “deficiencies” in a letter sent to Jail Administrator Greg Williams back in March.
The letter came with a 60-day deadline to improve conditions inside the jail or face a possible complaint filed with the Attorney General or Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
That deadline is now up.
“That report that we sent back to them details what we are doing. The action, the corrective action, we are taking currently,” Jessica Brown, Communications Director for the jail, said.
That includes a new approach to attacking what OSDH called a “bed bug infestation” in their latest inspection report.
“We’ve decided to take another step in trying to eradicate those by building a portable building outside of the facility to where we can heat items that have bed bugs, for example, mattresses, towels, clothing, blankets, heat that to a certain point, 120 degrees for at least 90 minutes, which kills not only active bed bugs, but larva,” Brown said.
Brown said jail staff members started working on plans for that building on Monday.
They’re also still battling a critical staffing shortage, with 319 employees right now, and they’d like to have at least 400 employees.
“We are starting a two week long academy today. We have 18 people in there, 15 of which will become detention officers,” Brown said on Monday.
Family members of inmates, like Richards, feel that is a step in the right direction.
“It’s just horrible and they need to get something done,” Richards said.
Officials with OSDH sent KFOR the following statement regarding the jail’s corrective report:
“The Oklahoma County Detention Center submitted a written plan of correction on 05/28/2021. The Plan of Correction is currently under review; after review an unannounced follow-up inspection will be conducted.
Please note that Title 74 O.S. Section 194, provides that if the deficiencies listed in the report have not been corrected within sixty (60) days after delivery of the report, the Commissioner of Health is authorized to refer the non-compliance to the Attorney General or the District Attorney. However, the statute provides that before making any referral, the time period for compliance may be extended for a reasonable period upon demonstration of a good faith effort to correct the deficiencies and achieve compliance.”OSDH OFFICIALS