HINTON, Okla. (KFOR) – KFOR has been following this story all week about Oklahoma inmates at the Great Plains Correctional Center who were held inside showers for hours, and for some, even days.
An Oklahoma lawmaker is now calling on Governor Stitt to bring in an outside agency to reinvestigate what happened.
Representative J.J. Humphrey, R-Lane, says after he spoke with several staff members who reported the incident, the outcome of the investigation did not match up with what was reported.
“I’m just saying I have faith in the [incident staff reports]. I don’t have faith in [Oklahoma Department of Corrections] reports,” said Representative Justin ‘J.J.’ Humphrey.
Representative J.J. Humphrey shared the incident staff report that was filed by temporary employees who were sent to the Great Plains Correctional Center from other prisons to help fill the staff need.
According to the report, they say staff who worked at the prison locked inmates in the showers for punishment, something the DOC denies. They tell us their investigation concluded they were just used as a temporary holding place.
“What’s important to note in this is that they were given the opportunity on several occasions to be housed in the housing assignments that we had for them, but they continuously refused,” said Jason Sparks, the Chief of Operations at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Humphrey is not satisfied with the DOC’s conclusion into the investigation, so he is now calling on the Governor to bring justice.
“I’m going to say a proper investigation doesn’t sound like it’s been done. And I also say it’s always problematic when you investigate yourself. So, if I investigate me in a J.J. Humphrey’s investigation, I can almost guarantee I’m going to get off every time, you know? So, it’s just not a good standard. Why is the state allowing that?” said Humphrey.
The incident staff report includes an email written by a staff member who was only placed there for a temporary time. It states he and the entire night shift officers were verbally reprimanded for giving inmates blankets, cups of water, or allowing inmates to go to the bathroom while being kept in the showers for refusing housing or disciplinary housing.
“Officers were ridiculed for calling this out. So, again, I don’t feel like this was an accident. I don’t feel like this was a we were just transferring them. I mean, the reports I have indicate that it was done because of punishment,” said Humphrey.
Bobby Cleveland is executive director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals who also represents employees at the DOC. He is backing all of Humphrey’s claims.
“This is probably the worst human rights violation that I’ve seen since I’ve been involved with corrections… I’ve seen a lot in our prison system, but this is very shocking that they would do this,” said Bobby Cleveland, executive director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals.
In response to Humphrey’s claims, the DOC told KFOR, “We continue to request Rep. Humphrey give any evidence to us and to the Attorney General’s office. We stand by our statements and welcome a third party review by the Attorney General. We have invited Rep. Humphrey to tour Great Plains Correctional Center multiple times, while members of his committee have toured and were impressed by our operations, he has yet to take us up on the offer.”
On Thursday, KFOR reached out to the Governor’s office twice to ask if Governor Stitt plans to look into bringing an outside agency to reinvestigate.
His office responded late Thursday afternoon.
Governor Stitt trusts the DOC’s investigation was thorough and is confident that Director Harpe holds his department to the highest standards.
Humphrey is holding a press conference Monday to talk about his plan to completely transform the Oklahoma Criminal Justice system.
KFOR will be there and bring you more on that next week.