OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says all prisons will remain locked down indefinitely until officials determine normal operations can resume after one inmate dead, several others injured following fights at multiple penitentiaries Saturday and Sunday.
ODOC says the fights, which began Saturday, took place at Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center Lawton Correctional Facility, North Fork Correctional Center, Dick Conner Correctional Center, Mack Alford Correctional Center and William S. Key Correctional Center.
The fights led to 36 inmates transported to hospitals for treatment, eight of whom were still hospitalized Tuesday morning, and injured several correctional officers.
Chad Burns, 27- who was serving a 15 years sentence out of Tulsa County for convictions including first-degree burglary, robbery, firearms possession and assault with a dangerous weapon- died at Dick Conner Correctional Center.
ODOC investigators say the violence appears to be related to a dispute between two prison gangs as well as racial tensions.
They say the statewide lockdown appears to have stopped the violence from spreading, while the agency continues to investigate.
The investigations have yielded numerous seizures of contraband cellphones, weapons and drugs by agency staff, while also shedding new light on what took place.
“Locking down the entire state was a decision we made to keep inmates and our staff safe,” Interim-Director Scott Crow said. “We were faced with a dangerous situation that was rapidly spreading across the state. This is in no way intended to penalize the thousands of state inmates who did not participate in this violence. We thank their families for continuing to be patient with us as we get to the bottom of what happened and bring those responsible to justice. As soon as we believe it is safe to return to normal operations, we will do so efficiently and safely.”
While inmates are locked down, they are kept in their cells. Facility staff bring them food, water, and medicine as well as provide access to showers.
All prisons will remain on lockdown until ODOC leadership, its Inspector General, Office of Fugitive Apprehension and Investigations agents, and Security Threats Intelligence staff determine it is safe to return to normal operations.
All visitation is canceled until further notice.