by Matt Clarke
When Greg Williams resigned from the Oklahoma County Jail on December 5, 2022, the administrator of the scandal-plagued lockup said only that “It is time for me to go.”
That was after one detainee sauntered out of the jail booking area in July 2022 and raped another detainee, who had been left handcuffed to a bar in an unsupervised hallway while awaiting her release. Donta Ramone Thomas, 44, was charged with that rape on September 15, 2022.
Three weeks later, on October 7, 2022, three men and a woman being processed in the same booking area were found having sex with one another. Williams shrugged that off, noting the sex was “consensual among all participants.”
Another detainee reported in October 2022 that he awoke in his cell to find “his cellmate’s private parts were in his mouth,” his mother told a local news reporter.
The state health department cited the jail for numerous deficiencies during an announced inspection on October 10 and 11, 2022. Logbooks maintained by guards revealed almost 1,200 required hourly “sight checks” were missing. More frequent sight checks had also been skipped for detainees needing higher supervision, including those on suicide watch.
The jail administrator was caught on tape earlier in the year telling a subordinate that the COVID-19 pandemic had been “wonderful” for providing the jail federal relief money. “Covid is our friend,” Williams declared. [See: PLN, May 31, 2022, online.]
The jail has suffered a serious spike in deaths, too: From four in 2020, there were 14 in 2021 and 15 through the first 11 months of 2022. Two earlier health department inspections in 2021 went badly, including a surprise follow-up visit when investigators found just ten staffers on duty to supervise nearly 1,700 detainees. Those inspections also uncovered bed bugs and unsupervised open doors, as well as holes in cell walls through which detainees could pass.
Originally designed to hold 1,200, the jail’s current capacity is 2,890. On June 28, 2022, county voters approved a bond measure to construct a new $300 million jail. For that, the county will also use at least $10 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Sources: KFOR, KOCO, NonDoc Media, The Oklahoman
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