OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A man who recently was in the Oklahoma County Jail said he left the jail covered in bed bugs.
He spoke to News 4 one day after OSDH sent jail administrators a letter, barring them from housing juvenile inmates.
“They’re about the size of a dime,” Michael Stange told News 4.
Stange told News 4 he was bitten by bed bugs many times during his recent four-day stay inside the Oklahoma County Jail. His body is now covered in bites.
“I couldn’t even get in a vehicle to be picked up. I had to walk home and take a shower at a truck stop, to make sure that I wouldn’t spread it into my friend’s family’s home,” Stange said.
He said his stay in the jail was much different than his stay a few years ago, before the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, the jail trust, took over operations of the jail.
“There was flies in the rice. The food is not edible in here,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health sent Jail Administrator Greg Williams and members of the trust a letter following a surprise inspection, barring them from housing juvenile inmates.
In the 60-page OSDH non-compliance report, inspectors found a long list of problems, including a lack of medical and mental health screenings, inmates not being fed three meals a day and emergency reporting phone systems and intercoms that don’t work.
That’s something Stange experienced for himself while he was inside the jail.
“Noticed a gentleman here having a seizure,” said Stange. “We were banging on the doors. Waiting for the CO’s to come. There’s no supervision.”
The inspection also found inmates were having to sleep on the floor due to overcrowding in the cells, which was listed as a “repeat deficiency,” and juveniles reported that they were only seeing staff members during meal time.
Officials at the jail released the following statement on Tuesday:
Today, the Oklahoma County Detention Center received a 61-page report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health detailing its findings during an unannounced follow-up visit to the facility. 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. OCDC administration has begun the process of reviewing and identifying which juveniles this decision will affect and making necessary arrangements to assist its criminal justice partners in finding appropriate placement for them. As of the time of this press release, 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.
The remainder of the report will be reviewed over the coming days by OCDC administration. “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.
According to OCDC Chief Operations Officer William Monday, a review of the report identifies some deficiencies that the facility does not agree are accurate, and OCDC will be researching the proper process by which to discuss those inaccuracies with the Department. “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.“
Oklahoma County D.A. David Prater also released a statement Tuesday:
“The Oklahoma Health Department’s report further verifies the Trust’s inability to safely and appropriately operate the Oklahoma County Jail. I am again calling for the dissolution of the Trust and for the jail’s operation to revert back to the Sheriff where it should be pursuant to the Oklahoman Constitution.”
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“I don’t think anybody should be housed in the Oklahoma County Jail. I definitely think we need to come up with a better facility, better management,” Stange said.
They’re currently working on plans to construct a building behind the jail where they will apply heat to bed bug infested items that will kill the larva.