'Unhealthy And Even Lethal': Oklahoma County Detention Center Grand Jury Report Released

A report has been released concerning the Oklahoma County Detention Center after a multicounty grand jury reviewed it . This report covered the overall safety of the OCDC and the illegal acts that take place within the OCDC.

Thursday, March 23rd 2023, 11:43 pm

By: News 9


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A report has been released concerning the Oklahoma County Detention Center after a multicounty grand jury reviewed it. This report covered the overall safety of the OCDC and the illegal acts that take place within the OCDC.

RELATED: Low Staffing, Escape Attempts, Over Crowding Plague Oklahoma County Jail

The allegations stated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported the OCDC as “unhealthy and even lethal.” This report was one of the main reasons the grand jury was called.

The OSDH outlined many problems from the past few years, including “repeat deficiencies,” some of these deficiencies are bedbugs, dirty conditions, and severe understaffing.

The OSDH filed a lawsuit in June 2022 after repeated warnings to the OCDC about its conditions.

Inmate deaths are another concern of the grand jury. 73 inmates died between 2000 and 2019. 37 inmates died from 2020 to the present. 

The top three causes of death are, “failure to intervene in drugs getting into the jail, inadequate health screenings at intake, and detention officers not doing proper cell checks.”

“Illness is the predominant cause of death in the jail,” the report said.

The report then goes on to address the possession of dangerous substances within the jail.

“The predominance of opioids within the OCDC is horrific,” the report said.

Fentanyl was found mailed into the jail behind stamps. The recent increase of fentanyl within the jail has led to overdoses and death, according to the report.

"MCGJ learned jail deaths were not being investigated as homicides unless there were apparent signs of an intentional criminal act," the report said.

The grand jury also learned "the chief of investigations for OCDC had neither the training nor the experience to investigate homicides."

Changes have been made since the latter half of 2022, including autopsies going to the Medical Examiner, deaths reported as homicide, and OSBI is now involved in jail deaths. 

The grand jury recommends these changes continue and the OCDC get a narcotic K9.

The OCDC facility was also a major topic in the report. 

“The facility has design and construction problems that have caused significant issues and led to an unsafe environment for inmates,” the report said.

The report addresses the cinder block walls, not filled with cement, that are easy to break through. This causes problems with inmates being able to break through the walls and use lines to bring contraband back into the OCDC.

“There has also been testimony that inmates can literally break down walls and tunnel in-between cells [...] Further information was received that some of the cells’ windows are damaged to the point of making it nearly impossible for detention officers to conduct site checks without opening the cell,” the report said.

The grand jury believes some employees have "vested interest" in aiding the import of drugs into the jail. Background checks have become limited in order to fill positions, however there are now concerns that street gang members are being hired as jailers.

The grand jury recommends raising pay and providing more training.

Despite the problems addressed within the report, the grand jury does not recommend the closure of the jail. However, the grand jury does recommend that the Jail Trust self-terminate and return the jail to the OK Co. Sheriff's control.

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