More inmate families speak out against Oklahoma County Jail conditions

Mike Seals - March 30, 2021 10:11 pm

by: Jessica Bruno

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – More allegations of unsafe conditions inside the Oklahoma County Jail keep pouring into the KFOR newsroom following a deadly hostage situation on the 10th floor of the jail over the weekend.

“He was stabbed and I said ‘oh, why didn’t they tell the news?’” Tamara Johnson told News 4.

Johnson flagged a KFOR crew down outside the Oklahoma County Jail on Tuesday, claiming her son, Christopher Johnson was stabbed on the 10th floor of the jail while inmates were holding a detention officer, Daniel Misquez hostage.

“We got no food,” one of the inmates is heard saying in a Facebook Live during the hostage situation.

Ultimately, one of the inmates, Curtis Williams, was shot and killed by an Oklahoma City police officer.

So far, News 4 has not heard anything from management at the jail about Johnson’s son.

“When I finally did get somebody on the phone, they said they would take him up to medical. He said he was taken up to medical. They put something on his arm. He hasn’t gotten any treatment until last night,” Johnson said.

KFOR requested an interview with Greg Williams, jail administrator, several times this week and we’ve been told our questions will be answered at a press conference on Wednesday.

“It makes you sick to your stomach,” Mary Jaworski told News 4.

KFOR spoke with Jaworski as she waited for her grandson to bond out of the jail on Tuesday.

“He has epilepsy and he doesn’t get his medication on time. One time, it was not until midnight,” she said.

Portia Lewis also flagged News 4 down outside the jail Tuesday, claiming her son has not been able to take a shower in weeks.

“Listening to my son and looking at the videos, the condition of the jail is just horrible,”​ she said.

Jail Trust Chair Tricia Everest told KFOR over the phone Monday that staffing is a serious concern right now.

On Tuesday, the jail released the following statement:

“The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (known as the jail trust) runs the operations of the Oklahoma County Detention Center. There was a hostage situation Saturday that ended in the loss of one of our detainees. His name was Curtis Williams.
This was a highly dangerous situation that ended tragically and the jail trust’s hearts are heavy with the loss. They also offer sympathies to detention officer, Daniel Misquez, as he recovers from injuries. “Our first priority is the care and protection of everyone in the facility, from the detainees and officers to our vendors who have direct contact with our detainees,” said Tricia Everest, Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority Chair. The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority is cooperating with OCPD which is leading the investigation related to event timeline and use of force on Saturday. The Trust anticipates having a preliminary report on events related to the detention officer’s capture and related conditions before the end of the week and will share those publicly. A more comprehensive report will take longer, possibly weeks.
The Oklahoma County Detention Center has some significant problems that contribute to the stress of the detainees, staff and vendors – including the detainee who took a hostage Saturday. The facility has been understaffed, creating safety concerns. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has offered and is providing shift support to jail administrator Greg Williams while the jail trust continues to develop a permanent solution. The agency’s support and collaboration has been helpful. The jail trust will provide more frequent updates to the public in the days and weeks to come about the progress toward needed increased staffing and actions taken to date to improve jail conditions.”

This comes after the jail’s medical service, Turn Key, sent Williams a letter, threatening to cancel their contract with the jail if staffing numbers are not improved by April 29th.

CEO of Turn Key Health Clinics, Flint Junod, released the following statement Tuesday:

“On March 29th, Turn Key Health Clinics submitted a Notice of Defect to the Jail Administrator for the Oklahoma County Detention Center.  This notice is not evidence of any desire to stop serving the Oklahoma County Detention Center.  On the contrary, we remain committed partners with the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority and hope to continue this partnership.  It is the hope of all sides that this issue can be resolved quickly.”

Williams also released a statement regarding Turn Key’s letter:

“We are in receipt of Turn Key’s notice and understand. We too are hopeful we can resolve this issue promptly as Turn Key Health Clinics is a quality healthcare provider for our detainees. The Detention Center has acknowledged the staffing challenges we face and are committed to resolving them quickly to continue the relationship with and ensure the safety of our vendors who care for detainees.  We have already taken short-term measures to solidify staffing levels and are actively pursuing long-term solutions.  To that end, we encourage those looking to join the new team we are building at the Oklahoma County Detention Center to join us in fulfilling our mission:  To provide protection through efficient and effective services and intervention leading to less victimization, and more personal growth and development. Anyone interested in joining that mission should apply through our website at: www.okcountydc.net.”

The following statement was released by Justin Wolf, Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, on behalf of ODOC Director Scott Crow:

“Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) has provided corrections staff to the Oklahoma County Jail Trust in response to an emergency need. These staff will work alongside county jail employees in a supplemental role on a temporary basis. ODOC will continue to cooperate with the Oklahoma County Jail Trust to maintain appropriate staffing levels and to determine when we will no longer provide this assistance.”

“The county needs to know that people are out here paying attention,” Lewis said.

“We call, we keep getting the run around, back and forth, what if your family died in here?” asked Johnson.

A press conference at the jail has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

 

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