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OK Private Prison Fined $168,750

On March 5,2000, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) fined the Great Plains Correctional Facility (GPCF) in Hinton, Oklahoma, $168,750 for failing to provide adequate medical care to the 812 Oklahoma prisoners housed in the prison. GPCF is owned by the Hinton Economic Development Authority, a county government agency, but it is operated by Cornell Corrections, a private, for-profit prison company. GPCF is the first private prison to open in Oklahoma.

Dennis Cunningham, the Oklahoma DOC's private prison administrator, said at the time the fine was levied it was the

largest ever against a private prison company in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma DOC found that the prison was not providing the medical care it was contractually obligated to provide, especially to chronically ill prisoners. Despite repeated requests, the prison never documented purported waivers of medical treatment from prisoners. The prison's medical staff was also working outside the scope of

their licenses.

Cunningham said the fine amount was determined by a formula and would be withheld from payment on the GPCF contract. Both Cornell and the HEDA disputed the fine and called the DOC's action "arbitrary and capricious." They claimed the prison provides basic medical care required by the constitution. Of course, that is not the same as providing medical care required by a contract.

Sources: The Associated Press, Tulsa World

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