‘These are inmates, not people, don’t treat them like they’re people’: Oklahoma County Jail employee describes inmate mistreatment, neglect

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma County Detention Center employee is speaking out about the myriad issues inside the jail, blaming mismanagement, talking about the ongoing bed bug problem, lack of insuring inmates get their medication, black mold problem, etc.

“I was roving a floor one night and another officer told an inmate to wipe their butt with their hand and I was like, ‘No, that’s a basic necessity, we have to give them toilet paper,'” an Oklahoma County Jail employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, told KFOR.

That employee contacted News 4 earlier this month, frustrated with how the jail is managed. He wanted to keep his identity private in fear of losing his job.

“She even told me, ‘These are inmates, not people, don’t treat them like they’re people, treat them like they’re inmates,'” he said, talking about anther employee.

He shared another recent incident where he claims he tried to get an inmate some medical help.

“I called my lieutenant and I say, ‘Lieutenant, this inmate has shoved something in his private again and he’s going to need to get taken to the hospital, can you come check on him,’” he said. “He said, ‘Eh, he does this all the time, don’t matter if he’s bleeding, don’t matter if he’s pussing, that’s what he gets.'”

Photo goes with story
Inside the Oklahoma County Jail.

The employee also confirmed a serious problem with getting the inmates their medication, something former inmates have told KFOR before.

“I’ve had to yell at one of the nurses to go back and give inmates their meds and they started yelling at me. I got written up for it,” he said.

Back in July, the jail lost its’ certification to house juveniles after two Oklahoma State Department of Health inspections. The deficiencies listed in that report included inmates not being fed three times a day, medical screenings not being performed, a mold problem and a bed bug infestation.

“All the jail maintenance does is paint over the mold to act like it’s not there,” the employee said. “All they do is pat spray the beds down, so how is that effectively treating bed bugs?”

In a statement sent to News 4, Mark Opgrande, a spokesperson for the jail, said the following:

“We have an open door policy and stress to every employee who has issues to raise them with administration so they can be properly investigated and corrected. We do not ignore unprofessional conduct and in fact initiate disciplinary or criminal referrals on employees who violate policy or break the law. We don’t have a history of ignoring problems. The detainee in question was evaluated by doctors. We defer and rely on Turn Key’s professional medical evaluation on the course of medical treatment for each detainee. The detainee was taken to the hospital on many occasions to address his medical needs. Furthermore, we are aware and actively work to address issues such as broken sprinklers by inmates and holes in the walls. In fact we are currently working on the specific pod mentioned to fix holes in between cells. Contractors are also on site preparing to install nearly $1 M on new a new locking system. Contraband is a pressing and ongoing issue with every jail and prison in the country, and we are committed to do whatever we can to keep it out of the detention center. Over FY21 the OCCJA spend $10.3 M of CARES act funds to replace old water systems, heating and cooling systems and the sewage system that address many of the environmental concerns. We are committed to address the many issues facing this facility. We encourage employees to continue speaking up when they have a concern.”

MARK OPGRANDE, OKLAHOMA COUNTY JAIL SPOKESPERSON

On Wednesday, Oklahoma County D.A. David Prater submitted an application, asking for a grand jury investigation at the jail, citing “lethal uncorrected mismanagement.”

“Probably about 80% of the people working in that jail don’t have the right attitude. They treat them like their garbage, just the bottom dirt barrel of the chain,” the employee said.

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