OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma County Detention Center’s certification to house juvenile offenders has been revoked after state officials found several points of concern in the jail during an unannounced visit.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) visited the jail unannounced and inspected the facility.
Detention Center administrators received a 61-page report from OSDH on Tuesday. The report detailed OSDH’s findings from the unannounced visit.
“Of most pressing concern was the determination that the detention center would not retain its certification to house juvenile offenders after this Friday, July 16, 2021,” said Mac Mullings, Programs and Services Coordinator for the jail.
OSDH and the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs certify city and county detention facilities to hold juvenile offenders based on the facility’s compliance with applicable rules stated within Title 310, Chapter 670 of the Oklahoma Administrative Code.
The Office of Juvenile Affairs and OSDH sent a letter to Greg Williams, administrator of the Detention Center, informing him that the jail was no longer certified to house juvenile offenders. That letter is as follows:
The report contained around 35 concerns, among which were the following:
- A lack of medical and mental health screenings;
- Failure to provide juvenile offenders with an immediate physical inspection following use of force;
- An emergency reporting phone system and intercoms that didn’t work;
- Several floors that didn’t have an officer assigned;
- Holes in concrete walls allowing inmates to move between four different cells;
- Males and female assigned to the same pods;
- Juvenile offenders housed with adult offenders;
- A lack of “sight checks” and obscured cell windows;
- Missed medical appointments due to no staff escort;
- Clogged drains with stagnant water;
- Cell doors and walls stained with black residue;
- Lint, dirt and black residue on air vents;
- Bedding only changed once every 6 to 7 weeks;
- Laundry carts littered with trash, not marked as clean or dirty to prevent cross contamination.
Mullings said jail administrators are now working to identify which juveniles the decision impacts, and are making arrangements to find appropriate placement for them.
“As of [Tuesday], only one juvenile meets the statutory definition of a ‘child’ or ‘juvenile’ and will be returned to the Oklahoma County juvenile detention facility as soon as possible before the OSDH deadline,” Mullings said.
The jail is not barred from housing juvenile first-degree murder defendants.
Detention Center administrators will review the rest of the report over the coming days.
“We remain committed to making all necessary repairs to the facility to improve the safety and quality of life for all who work and live within its walls, said Greg Williams, jail administrator. “While the staff and contractors have worked diligently and over long hours to make the infrastructure improvements that are already completed, there is much more to be done. Decades of physical plant neglect and poor construction cannot be overcome in a few months. I am proud of the work the staff, along with our external partners like Oklahoma County, has completed in such a short timeframe.”
Detention Center Chief Operations Officer William Monday said that some of the deficiencies listed in the OSDH/Office of Juvenile Affairs report are not accurate. He said jail officials will look into how to discuss the alleged inaccuracies with OSDH.
“Although we acknowledge the many issues we face at the detention center, we want to make sure everyone is focusing attention on the correct problems. No one wants this place to be in the best possible condition it can be more than we do,“ Monday said.
Detention Center officials have wrestled with several issues this year, including a crisis situation in which inmates took a Detention Center official hostage and one of the inmates was shot, multiple inmate deaths, inmate claims of insufficient food, scarce chances to shower and backed up toilets, as well as parents of inmates protesting conditions inside the jail.
Click the above tweet to view KFOR reporter Jessica Bruno’s entire Twitter thread on this important topic.
Courtney Landsberger contributed to this story.