OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The mother of an Oklahoma County Jail inmate contacted KFOR over the weekend saying her son is freezing inside his cell, claiming there is no heat and he’s been denied an extra blanket.
“He said, ‘Momma, I can see my breath when I’m talking. It is freezing cold in here,’” a concerned mother told News 4.
She said she got that call from her son inside the Oklahoma County Jail last week, when temperatures hit the low teens.
“I said, ‘You guys don’t have the heat?’ He said, ‘No, we haven’t had it now for a couple of days now,’” she said. “I said, ‘Did you ask for an extra blanket?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, a couple of times but they just don’t care about us in here.'”
She wants to remain anonymous, fearing her son could face retaliation for speaking out.
She contacted News 4 after she called the jail and allegedly received no answers or help for her son.
“Lady answered the phone and when she did, she put the phone down. She didn’t ask me anything. She put the phone down and she said, ‘I don’t know who that is. I don’t want to talk to them. I don’t want to deal with any of the issues right now,’” she recalled.
Officials at the jail sent News 4 a statement on Tuesday, saying, “We have verified the heat in the building is working properly.”
They said there are always hot and colder zones in the facility when the temperature fluctuates outside, saying cells will always be a little colder because they are next to the outside walls.
When KFOR first contacted the jail, officials said, “According to the HVAC computer monitoring system, the air return sensors in each of the cells in [the affected inmate’s cellblock] are registering 73 degrees.”
Later in the day, jail officials reached out again upon further investigation.
“Because the jail’s exterior is made of hollow cinderblocks, some cells get colder than others. We checked the temperature in the detainee’s cell using an infrared thermometer and found it in the mid-60s. This is approximately 8 degrees colder than some other cells and the pod dayroom. We are implementing our policy of providing extra blankets for detainees in colder cells, including those in the corners.”Oklahoma County Jail
Plans for a new county jail are still in the works. The Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners is working on figuring out how to fund the nearly $300-million facility.
It will likely include the county’s $150 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, along with expiring bond money, if approved by voters.
The commissioners also discussed the possibility of asking the state legislature for $75 million in state ARPA funds as well at their meeting on Monday.
“We all know that we’re going to need to take a little bit of money from a lot of different pots if we are able to without going to the voters with a tax increase,” Commissioner Brian Maughan, District 2, said during the meeting.
While all of that gets ironed out, this inmate’s mother is just hoping her son can stay warm in the current facility for the rest of the winter season.
“He’s like, ‘You know momma, I can’t even get out of bed. It’s so cold. My bones are aching,’ she said. “You know, for me as a mom, that hits your heart strings. It’s like gosh, I wish that I could just do something,”