‘Treating them like they’re humans is, it’s hard for them’: Grand Jury to investigate ‘unhealthy living conditions’ at Oklahoma County Jail

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A grand jury is being convened to investigate the Oklahoma County Detention Center and Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board after a request by District Attorney David Prater.

“After last night the story that you ran with the employee, he woke up with a taser in his face, them screaming and yelling for him to turn over so they can handcuff him and they shook down everybody’s cell,” the sister of an Oklahoma County Jail inmate, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

She wanted to keep her identity private, fearing her brother could face retaliation. She’s talking about a story KFOR aired on Wednesday with an employee of the Oklahoma County Jail who spoke out about some of the things he’s witnessed on the job.

“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,” the employee said.

He also confirmed an ongoing problem with inmates not getting their medication.

“My brother, he has medical issues. He does not get his medication regularly. He has blood pressure issues,” the woman KFOR spoke with Thursday said.

She told News 4 she’s sent Jail Administrator Greg Williams several emails over the past month, asking to see a food menu, concerned about what her brother is eating.

“I sent Mr. Williams maybe three or four emails asking for a menu, no response,” she said. “Our joke is he likes to go to court because he doesn’t get mold on his bologna. When you go to court, you don’t get molded bread.”

News 4 asked officials at the jail for a menu and they said we’d have to call their food service, Summit. We left them a message and haven’t heard back.

On Wednesday, Prater submitted an application asking for a grand jury investigation at the jail, citing “lethal uncorrected mismanagement”…“resulting in unhealthy jail living conditions.”

In his application, Prater references a March 8 Oklahoma State Department of Health inspection that found “more than thirty serious violations of jail regulations.”

According to the request, members of the jail trust and jail administration could face criminal penalties.

A judge granted Prater’s request late Wednesday night, convening a grand jury to investigate.

Officials at the jail sent KFOR the following statement in response:

“We have not received any official notification about the district attorney’s application, so the information we have gathered about the basis for the filing is preliminary. However, both the trustees and jail administration have worked very hard over the past 14 months to address the decades of deferred maintenance and destructive culture that is part of the history of the 30-year-old facility. Since the initial inspection by the state health department, many improvements have been made on the infrastructure of the facility. The administration, with the support of the trustees, has worked tirelessly to redirect the culture toward a community corrections model, and to modernize the antiquated internal systems, but there remains much to be done.

‘We appreciated the visit from OSDH because it identified many of the problems we had already been addressing in a concise way,’ said CEO Greg Williams. ‘We know there are more improvements to be made, but we continue to be proactive in removing barriers to quality of life for those who live and work within the Oklahoma County Detention Center.'”

“I understand they’re short-staffed, I get that, but treating them like they’re humans is, it’s hard for them,” the inmate’s sister said.

There will also be a grand jury investigation into the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, as well. Prater’s application referenced allegations that have been made against the board, accusing them of violating state law and rules of the Pardon and Parole Board during clemency/parole consideration for several inmates.

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