Lawmakers, Inmate Family Members Call For Change In Oklahoma Prisons

State lawmakers are demanding change at Oklahoma prisons, calling for an investigation into what they call ongoing issues across the state.

Wednesday, February 21st 2024, 5:49 pm



(Editor's note: The video at the top of this story includes footage that some viewers may find disturbing.)

State lawmakers are demanding change at Oklahoma prisons, calling for an investigation into what they call ongoing issues across the state. Family members of Department Of Corrections inmates shared their stories Wednesday morning, calling for change.

“Guys this is horrendous. This is horrendous,” said Rep. JJ Humphrey (R - Lane).

Shaykia Ross joined Wednesday’s House Criminal Justice and Corrections committee, to share the details and video of her brother, Carlos Ross, being beaten behind bars at Dick Conner Correctional Center.

“They beat him with padlocks. It was like 20 of them that jumped on him. The second day, they stabbed him two times. The third day -- that's when they did the recording,” said Ross.

Ross said a video taken of a group of men beating her brother inside the prison was sent to her and other family members, even making its way across state lines to people in Nevada and Florida.

She says after receiving the video, she called the prison and demanded her brother receive medical attention. Ross said she worries if she hadn’t called, her brother may have died inside his cell.

“They left my brother unattended in his cell with just his boxers on. He was in his cell for eight to ten hours before I called,” said Ross.

Carlos was hospitalized with broken ribs, a broken nose, and a broken eye socket.

“Something needs to happen in these facilities,” said Ross. “I just hope a change comes soon.”

Ross's story is one of many that’s been shared with Rep. Humphrey, who is now calling for an outside investigation into the Department of Corrections.

“Shame on them for not having the courage to come up and say, 'We have a broken system. Let's fix the problem,'” said Rep. Humphrey.

In a statement, a DOC spokesperson said: “We take all incidents seriously. Within 45 minutes of the incident involving Carlos Ross, all suspects were identified and relocated to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.”

The spokesperson added, “Once returned from the hospital, Dick Conner Correctional Center placed Ross in a protected housing unit until he could be moved into protective custody at another facility. Ross’s incident was directly tied to his involvement in a security threat group. He is currently incarcerated on drug-related charges.”

Shaykia says she will continue fighting, and be the advocate for her brother and other inmates until changes are made.

“I'm standing for everybody, I'm not just standing for my brother,” said Ross.

Below is the full statement from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections:

“The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is driven by its mission: to protect the public, the employee, and the inmate/offender. Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to safeguard everyone in their care, including their fellow employees. This includes stopping the introduction of contraband, rendering medical aid, performing facility checks, and much more.
"We take all incidents seriously. Within 45 minutes of the incident involving Carlos Ross, all suspects were identified and relocated to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, a maximum-security facility, and our Office of Inspector General launched an investigation into the incident. Carlos was immediately assessed and transported to the hospital for medical treatment. His medical assessment and treatment were typical for ODOC’s high standard of medical care.  
"Once returned from the hospital, Dick Conner Correctional Center placed Ross in a protected housing unit until he could be moved into protective custody at another facility. Ross’s incident was directly tied to his involvement in a security threat group. He is currently incarcerated on drug-related charges. 
"Since implementing a stricter misconduct policy at the direction of Executive Director Steven Harpe, there has been a sharp decline in inmate-on-inmate serious incidents. The data also shows that violence has trended down over the last few months due to our strategic population moves, which reduces violence between security threat groups. 
"ODOC is transparent in its operations. When incidents occur, they are swiftly handled, ensuring the safety of everyone involved. If criminal activity does occur within a facility, it is thoroughly investigated, and those involved are held accountable for their actions.”
logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News 9 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

February 21st, 2024

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024

Top Headlines

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024