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Avalon Correctional Center
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Avalon Correctional Services
Feb 15, 2014 tulsaworld.com

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Department of Corrections won’t consider returning inmates to Avalon Correctional Services’ Tulsa halfway house until significant changes are made to its operations, officials said Thursday. Interim director Ed Evans told the Board of Corrections that the agency issued several pages of requirements that the private company must address before getting a new contract to repopulate its Avalon Tulsa halfway house. The mandates include upgrading security cameras, increasing drug testing of offenders and strengthening methods of finding and tracking contraband at the facility. The agency would have an on-site monitor for at least six months and be able to review prospective administrators and other hires for the facility. Avalon would be required to pick up the tab for all of these changes. Company officials said they have already completed upgrades on the building at 302 W. Archer St. to improve security and safety and are working quickly to make all changes required by DOC. “We’re actually great with everything that they recommended,” said Brian Costello, president and chief operating officer. “A lot of stuff we’ve already complied with. I think we should be relatively close to meeting those requirements.” In January, department officials closed Avalon Tulsa and canceled its contract, transferring more than 200 inmates due to “serious infractions” affecting offender safety. The investigation began after inmate fights were captured on cellphone videos from inside the facility. The fights at Avalon Tulsa are among allegations of inmates’ civil rights violations that the Department of Corrections and FBI are now investigating. Oklahoma City-based Avalon operates halfway houses in Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming for inmates nearing the end of their sentences as they prepare to reintegrate into society. Its Turley halfway house for women and Carver facilities in Oklahoma City remain open under their current DOC contracts. Whether Avalon Tulsa is ultimately reopened will be up to DOC and its new director, Robert Patton, who is expected to begin his duties next week. The department has full authority over its contracts with halfway house providers and does not need approval of the Board of Corrections to cancel or approve those contracts, officials said. Board member Steve Burrage said he simply wanted to make sure the department was “acting in fairness” toward Avalon. “This is a contract we’ve had for 29 years,” he said. Burrage said Avalon had a “very clean” record. Department officials previously told state legislators the agency has evidence that administrators at Avalon Tulsa knew about the inmates fighting for sport and gambling purposes and allowed it to continue. Attorneys representing several of the Avalon Tulsa inmates have alleged that administrators not only knew, but participated by selecting inmates and setting up the fights. Also at Thursday’s Board of Corrections meeting, General Counsel Mike Oakley informed the board that despite allegations by some state legislators that DOC is not following the law with regard to placing inmates in halfway houses, there is actually no statutory requirement to place inmates in those facilities. Halfway houses are simply one option DOC has for community corrections placement of inmates as they complete their sentences, Oakley said. Protecting public safety and following strict policies on which inmates can be placed in halfway houses and work release programs are the most important factors, he said. “They’re frying your burgers and serving your fast food,” Oakley told the board. “We want to make sure these offenders are fit to go into your community.”


Feb 1, 2014 oklahomawatch.org

Federal investigators are looking into allegations against a Tulsa halfway house that resulted in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections pulling its inmates from the facility, Oklahoma Watch has learned. Edward Evans, acting director of the Corrections Department, told legislators at a House public-safety subcommittee meeting Tuesday that the federal government was investigating issues at the Avalon Correctional Services facility in Tulsa. Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie confirmed to Oklahoma WatchThursday that the department had turned over evidence to federal investigators and department officials have had conversations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI about the matter. An FBI spokesman said per the bureau’s policy, he could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation. The Department of Corrections has three active investigations into Avalon’s Tulsa halfway house, according to a Jan. 14 letter from the department’s deputy director Reginald Hines to Brian Costello, president and chief operating officer of Oklahoma City-based Avalon. Preliminary evidence showed “serious infractions” involving inmate counts, security, possession of contraband by inmates and offender safety concerns, according to the letter. “The violations are so serious that the Department will begin depopulating Avalon Tulsa immediately” of its nearly 200 inmates, Hines wrote, adding that the evidence showed a breach that goes to the heart of the contract. The contract would be cancelled, the letter said. “The Department has lost confidence in the administration of the Tulsa facility,” Hines wrote. The letter ordered all inmates removed from the facility within 10 days and limited the department’s inmate count at Avalon’s Oklahoma City facility, the Carver Center, to 225. In November, The Oklahoman reported allegations that inmates were participating in organized fights sanctioned by officers at the Avalon halfway house in Tulsa. In January, a video showing a fight between two inmates at the facility was posted by theOklahoman, the Tulsa World and other media outlets. Avalon also has come under scrutiny over its halfway house for women in Turley, called the Turley Residential Center. Two lawsuits in Tulsa County allege that Avalon did not report incidents of sexual abuse and discriminated against a volunteer, according to a Tulsa World report in November. Incident reports also alleged other misconduct, including inappropriate relationships between staff and offenders and inmates testing positive for drug use. A corporate attorney for Avalon denied the allegations. The issue of Avalon’s Tulsa facility was discussed during January’s Board of Corrections meeting, where Costello offered to replace the site’s administrator and pay for a full-time Corrections Department monitor at the facility. State Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, also spoke at the meeting, urging the board not to remove all inmates from the Tulsa facility because of an already overcrowded prison system and concerns about guard safety. Costello said Thursday that he has heard the FBI may be looking into the matter, but his company has not been contacted by federal investigators. Costello also said Avalon is working with the Corrections Department to come up with a list of changes to make to get the facility re-opened and re-populated. That list of changes and requirements should be available on Friday, he said. Meanwhile, Tulsa attorney Louis Bullock, who represents some of the former Avalon inmates and who released the fight video to media, said he, too, has heard of an FBI investigation into allegations against Avalon. Bullock said he expects to file litigation in the matter. Despite the problems at halfway houses, Blackwell and Steve Mullins, Gov. Mary Fallin's general counsel, have questioned whether the Corrections Department is following the law by failing to send more offenders to halfway houses, the Tulsa World reported Tuesday. Emails released in November by Fallin’s office show that on March 5 last year, Avalon representatives met with staff members for Fallin and accused the Corrections Department of breaking the law by not placing enough offenders nearing release in halfway houses. Massie told Oklahoma Watch in December that many offenders who would otherwise be eligible to go to halfway houses were not sent there because of public safety concerns, which is an exception written into the law.


Jan 23, 2014 The Oklohoman

TULSA — After the Oklahoma Corrections Department canceled its contract amid three ongoing investigations, a private company has removed 212 state offenders from a Tulsa halfway house. Oklahoma-based Avalon Correctional Services Inc. was given 10 days to take action in a letter from Deputy Director Reginald Hines sent Jan. 14. The letter says the department has “lost confidence in the administration of the Tulsa facility,” and no offenders will be sent there until after the department has completed and reviewed the findings of the investigations. One of those investigations pertains to allegations that officers at the Tulsa facility organized fights between offenders, which The Oklahoman first reported Nov. 23. A video of inmates brawling surrounded by fellow offenders at the facility was made available to the media by Tulsa attorney Louis Bullock last week. Avalon later confirmed the video was shot Aug. 24. Most of the 212 offenders have been transferred to other private halfway houses, and a small number either have been discharged or placed on GPS monitoring. One was sent to Nowata County jail and one more was paroled. Nine of those transferred were sent to the Carver Transitional Center, another halfway house operated by Avalon. At a special meeting Friday of the Oklahoma Board of Corrections, Avalon President Brian Costello proposed removing the Tulsa facility's administrator, Donald Coffman, and offered to pay the salary of a full-time Corrections Department employee to monitor necessary changes to reinstate Avalon's contract with the department. Costello said Wednesday Coffman is still on Avalon's payroll and is working in the company's central office. The Tulsa center will continue to house about 20 people who are paying for their treatment privately, but Costello said he has worries the loss of the state contract could result in permanent closure. “It will take us a while to hopefully restore the faith in our operation by the department, but also the public at large,” Costello said. “We think we provide a service that is essential for Oklahoma, like we do in Texas where, you know, the increase in halfway house usage and treatment usage has actually driven the prison population down.” The Corrections Department also limited to 225 the total number of state offenders the Carver Transitional Center can house. The facility has a 556-bed capacity. Once the department has completed its investigations it will outline a course of action, if any, that can be taken by Avalon to renew its contract with the state to house offenders in the Tulsa center, said Jerry Massie, Corrections Department spokesman. “We'll come up with what we believe are corrective actions that need to occur and see how they'll respond to that,” Massie said.


Jan 21, 2014 The Oklahoman
TULSA — A grainy video shows two shirtless men surrounded by bunks and several male onlookers in an apparent fight circle. The shirtless men touch hands, raise their fists and start taking swings at each other. Attorney Louis Bullock said the cellphone video depicts an officer-organized fight at a halfway house the state Corrections Department is in the process of shutting down. In the video, another man holds what appears to be cash and tells one of the fighters that if he wins he will get paid. Amid encouragement from those watching, the two shirtless men throw wild punches. One man unsuccessfully attempts to body slam the other before the pair wrestle into a bunk and then the ground. The man on top lands several blows to the other man's head and kicks him once with a booted foot before other offenders pull them apart. The fight takes place at the Avalon Correctional Center in Tulsa, operated by Oklahoma-based Avalon Corrections Services Inc., and is at the heart of an ongoing investigation by the state Corrections Department's internal affairs division, Bullock said.

>>READ: Safety concerns prompt Oklahoma corrections officials to order removal of inmates from private center

>>READ: Oklahoma Corrections Department investigates reports of fight at halfway house

>>READ: DOC letter to Brian Costello

It is not clear when the fight occurred. The attorney said he has been speaking to several offenders from the facility who he says were coerced, or in some cases forced, into fights. Bullock said he plans to pursue a civil rights lawsuit against Avalon. He said he has been told by multiple parties, including one of the offenders depicted in the video, that two officers at the facility were not only present during the fight, but they condoned it. “It tells me that this event was sanctioned, and it supports the view that these types of fights were not exceptional,” Bullock said. Bullock alleges that not only did guards facilitate the altercations, the center's administrator, Donnie Coffman, was involved as well. “... I have inmates who have reported that they were ordered by Coffman to assault other inmates,” Bullock said, adding that no action was taken by halfway house administrators when inmates complained fights were about to take place. Official denies role Coffman said he never encouraged or ordered any type of assault, nor has he seen the video. “Was I aware of the video? I was told that there was one, but my bosses are dealing with it, but I didn't know anything about it, and they're trying to say that I organized fights, and that's not true,” Coffman said Thursday. Coffman said he has been with Avalon for seven years, serving as the center's administrator since 2010. He said he also has worked for the state Office of Juvenile Affairs and the Corrections Department. In a letter Tuesday to Avalon, the department demanded the company remove all 212 inmates from the Tulsa facility due to three active investigations. The letter also states the department has lost confidence in the facility's administration. Coffman acknowledged that cellphones, which are illegal for offenders to posses while incarcerated, and drugs have been problems at the center. “We've probably taken, I don't know, 50 or 60 cellphones away from them every 90 days,” Coffman said. “As far as drugs, yes, they go out in the public, and these are inmates that come here with drug habits and ... come straight from a facility with a drug habit.” Avalon's president and chief operations officer, Brian Costello, did not return calls seeking comment. Three investigations: One of the Corrections Department investigations is into the video and the possibility that guards were organizing fights between offenders, said Jerry Massie, department spokesman. Massie confirmed the investigation has been going on since at least November, when The Oklahoman first reported the presence of a video. He declined to comment on the other two investigations. The video is one of at least two said to exist, and Coffman said one of the two officers alleged to be captured on film has been fired, but Coffman would not say when he was let go. Lynn Powell, director of OK-Cure, the state branch of a national organization seeking changes to the criminal justice system, said she has seen a second video of a different fight that clearly shows two officers initiating a fight between offenders. Powell, who has been inside the Tulsa facility, said the video obtained by The Oklahoman also takes place there.

 

Jan 15, 2014 The Oklahoman
The state Corrections Department is demanding an Oklahoma company immediately remove all inmates from a halfway house amid allegations that officers staged fights among offenders. In a letter Tuesday to Avalon Corrections Services Inc., the department said it is freezing the number of Oklahoma offenders it sends to the company's facilities and allowing 10 days to transfer all 212 individuals in the Avalon Correctional Center, a 390-bed halfway house in Tulsa. Those offenders will be transferred to various other facilities in the state, possibly including another Avalon center, said Jerry Massie, Corrections Department spokesman. The move comes in response to three investigations the department is conducting at the center. Massie confirmed one of the three investigations involves allegations of officer-organized fighting between inmates, which The Oklahoman reported in November. The facility's administrator, Donnie Coffman, at that time told The Oklahoman he had spoken to his corporate office about a video of the fighting rumored to be circulating, but questioned its existence. “I'd have to see this video to believe it to be true,” Coffman said. “What you're asking about is as far fetched at this facility as you can imagine.” This is the first time the state Corrections Department has called for a private facility to be depopulated over safety concerns, Massie said. The letter from Reginald Hines, deputy director of the state Corrections Department, states that department officials have lost confidence in the facility's administration. Massie said he could not comment on whether they are going to ask that administrators be removed from the center, but the letter did stipulate any transfers of staff from the Tulsa facility to their Carver Correctional Center in Oklahoma City must be approved by the department. “Once the investigation is finished and we reviewed all the evidence, we'll provide Avalon with what we feel are the necessary requirements to contract with them again,” Massie said. In an emailed response provided to The Oklahoman, Brian Costello, president and chief operating officer of Avalon, called the move “unprecedented and unwarranted,” saying not only will it result in the loss of jobs and reintegration opportunities for 100 inmates and jobs for 40 workers, it “will likely result in the permanent closure of the facility and the loss of 390 beds to the state.” In 2008, a similar Avalon facility in Greeley, Colo., was closed by that state amid reports of sexual, drug and weapons-related misconduct. About 100 offenders were transferred to other facilities, and Avalon no longer operates that halfway house or any other facilities in Colorado. Costello said they will be taking the necessary actions to propose a safe alternative to the facility's closure, but he expressed disdain over the removal of offenders, calling it politically motivated. “It is no secret that certain individuals within the DOC would like to see the failure of the Halfway House system in Oklahoma,” Costello said. “The former Director of the DOC is on record stating that he doesn't believe private companies should be in the corrections business. That view is shared by others in the department.” Justin Jones, former executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, was public in his objections to the use of private prisons, after he stepped down from the post in August.

August 9, 2010 Tulsa World
In a cost-cutting move, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is eliminating some of its community-level beds in Tulsa. The agency has canceled a contract with Avalon Correctional Services for beds to house offenders put on public works crews in Tulsa, department Director Justin Jones said. The offenders are being moved to other facilities. Avalon President Brian Costello said the contract involves about 75 offenders. With those beds empty, the company will have trouble keeping its building open, he said. "We are exploring some options to try to find a different population to go in there. It doesn't look promising," Costello said. Jones said the state inmates should be out of Avalon's building at 1727 Charles Page Blvd. by about Sept. 1.

June 29, 2005 News 9
Tuesday night prison guards are being accused of taking bribes.  We're told they're taking money and letting prisoners out of jail. Nick Winkler found out why prisoners say it's easy to get out. The music was not so sweet a few weeks ago. Sources say the thieves who broke James McGinley's window and stole his radio should've been in prison instead they paid guards at a half-way house $50 to let them out for the night. Lawyer Mark Bright represents a man who once stayed at the Carver Center the man says he has seen guards take money from prisoners. Sources say prisoners would return in time to be counted by the bribed guard the next morning avoiding new guards during shift changes. And it's those guards McGinley says should pay for the damage to his car. After college McGinley wants to be a cop to catch criminals and the guards who set them free for bribes. A spokesperson at the Carver Center says the Center is not aware of any guards taking bribes but will investigate.

March 25, 2005 Tulsa World
A man was charged Thursday with escape, car theft, drunken driving and other counts amid accusations that he stole a Collinsville police car after being arrested Saturday night.
Franklin Eugene Klutts Jr. also faces charges of driving with a revoked license and four other counts. Klutts is alleged to have escaped earlier Saturday from an Avalon Correctional Services facility in Tulsa.

August 27, 2004
The driver and four state prisoners were injured Thursday when a van hit three vehicles and crashed into a southeast Oklahoma City business.  An Avalon Correctional Services van driven by Donahue Bowens, 44, hit a vehicle parked in front of Crossland's A&A Rent-All & Sales Co., 716 SE 29, police Sgt. Tony Foreman said.  A portion of the parked vehicle was in the street when the accident occurred about 7:30 a.m., he said. The right front tire of the van blew out, and the A-frame was broken before it spun out of control, he said. The van struck two other parked vehicles before it crashed into the building.  (News Ok)

July 24, 2004
A man who fled from a traffic stop Friday morning was believed to have been a correctional center escapee who has been a fugitive since May.  Jack L. Billingslea, 34, was serving sentences at Avalon Correctional Center in Tulsa for concealing stolen property, assaulting a police officer, possessing a stolen vehicle and driving under the influence of alcohol, Corrections Department records show.  When a Tulsa County deputy stopped a vehicle about 9 a.m. in the 3000 block of Charles Page Boulevard, a passenger jumped out and ran, Chief Deputy Brian Edwards said. The driver told authorities that the passenger was Billingslea. Deputies and Tulsa police searched the area, but Billingslea was never found.  (Tulsa World)

December 14, 2002
A Tulsa halfway house inmate who beat a fellow inmate to death with a TV set last spring was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday night.   The jury recommended life without parole for Robert Spanglo, 47, who was convicted in the March 31 attack on Charles Bush, 34, at the Avalon Correctional Center, 302 W. Archer. Spanglo and Bush were inmates at Avalon, where, during the early morning hours, Spanglo picked up a TV and bashed Bush on the head while Bush was in bed. (Tulsa World)

October 23, 2002
Tulsa County Officials are expressing frustration with the Tulsa Police Department for continuing to take public drunks to the Tulsa Jail rather than the Public Inebriate Alternative center, where the daily cost is much cheaper.  The chairman of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, Bob Dick, said Tuesday before a meeting with judges, the public defender, district attorney and other court officials that they would have to decide next month whether to renew a contract with Avalon Correctional Services.  The authority is paying Avalon to operate thee PIA program and guarantees it 40 beds at $24 a day.  But the average number of beds used is only five or six while there are typically 100 to 200 public drunks in the jail.  It  may be too late, however.  The Criminal Justice Authority has already been paying for about 35 extra beds for public drunks a year, which comes to an estimated $306,600.  Avalon's contract is subject to renewal Nov. 30.  (Tulsa World)

May 3, 2002
A Tulsa halfway house inmate who was hit in the head by a television-wielding fellow inmate has died from his injuries.  Robert Spanglo, 46, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Charles Bush,34Spanglo is accused of flinging the TV at Bush's head at the Avalon Correctional Center on March 31.  (Tulsa World)

Avalon Correctional Services
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Aug 29, 2013 tribtown.com

TULSA, Oklahoma — A group of female inmates has filed a negligence lawsuit against the private company operating a halfway house in suburban Tulsa, alleging they were routinely subjected to sexual battery and harassment while participating in a work-release program. The lawsuit was filed against Oklahoma City-based Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the Turley Residential Center for female inmates. At least 20 women have made allegations, and more victims may come forward, attorney J. Spencer Bryan told the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/18hPTrg ). Bryan said the abuses involved a work-release employer in the food services industry. The work-release program offers job training and classes to prepare inmates to re-enter the workforce as they complete jail or prison sentences. "Different women had different experiences, but sexual battery is the most common theme," Bryan said. "Those allegations generally involve unwanted and repeated touching and groping of the buttocks and breasts, pulling down clothing to expose body parts and unwanted kissing." Several of the women said the employer would "gloat that nobody would believe them because they're inmates," Bryan said. The lawsuit says the Avalon staff retaliated against the women and accused them of lying after the alleged abuse was reported. "Despite communicating these complaints to Avalon, nothing was being done," Bryan said. Avalon President Brian Costello said he couldn't comment on specific allegations because he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit. "I don't know specifics of the individual claims, so it's very difficult to know what we're talking about," Costello said. "We have been made aware of one instance with one employer that was investigated. That is the only instance that we have ever been made aware of." But if there is any indication of a problem with an employer, the inmates are immediately removed and placed in jobs elsewhere, Costello said. "We take those allegations seriously. We're pretty happy with the program and our relationship" with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Costello said.

December 17, 2006 Tulsa World
Brent VanMeter, a top-level state official until he was arrested six years ago, is now working for a company that runs halfway houses for inmates. VanMeter, who was convicted of bribery and sent to federal prison, is reticent about the past or his new life that includes a job with Avalon Correctional Services Inc. "But I do think I have something to contribute. I think I have empathy for what those people are going through," he said. "Those people" are convicted felons with 1,000 or fewer days remaining in their sentences who are living in halfway houses and have 30 days to get jobs before they are released for good. It was six years ago when federal officers showed up at the state Department of Health with 13 search warrants and arrested VanMeter, deputy health commissioner in charge of nursing homes. A 20-year veteran of the department, he was a likely candidate to one day become state commissioner of health. In December 2000, VanMeter was sentenced to federal prison on charges of taking bribes from a nursing home operator. He also was accused of taking part in paying "ghost workers" who did not show up for work. He later pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive Oklahomans of the right to honest services from a state official. U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron, who pronounced one of his sentences, said the vulnerability of nursing home clients made VanMeter's crime worse and it was necessary that he be punished to set an example for the public. Testimony showed that he was using the money from nursing home operators to feed his gambling habit. On the day of his arrest, VanMeter had left the office to place bets on races. VanMeter said he is lucky to realize now that "you are not always in control like you think you are; there are outside influences." "I did have, I do have a gambling problem, something I've dealt with and continue to deal with. "I don't do that anymore. That was a whole period a long time ago. It was one that I would just as soon put behind me. Hopefully I have and other people will, too."

February 3, 2005 Yahoo
Avalon Correctional Services, Inc. announced today it has filed a Form 15 to terminate the Company's common stock registration under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 ("the Act"). The Company's obligation to file periodic reports with the SEC including reports on forms 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K, and the Company's proxy statement is suspended with the filing of the Form 15. The deregistration will not become effective until the SEC terminates the registration, which is expected to occur within 90 days. After careful consideration it was determined that deregistering was not only in the overall best interest of all of the Company's stockholders, but it was crucial for the continuation of the Company as a going concern. Those factors included but were not limited to the following: 1. The substantial elimination of significant legal, accounting, and printing costs associated with the preparation and filing of the periodic reports and other filings with the SEC; 2. The elimination of substantial increases in legal, audit, and other costs associated with being a public company in light of new regulations promulgated as a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, specifically Section 404 of the Act, and the SEC rules thereunder; 3. The financial impact of the estimated cost to be incurred during 2005 to comply with Section 404 of the Act could place the Company into default with existing loan covenants; 4. The financial impact of the estimated cost to be incurred during 2005 to comply with Section 404 of the Act could eliminate the Company's ability to access funds for current operations and future growth. 5. The financial impact of the estimated cost to be incurred during 2005 to comply with Section 404 of the Act could jeopardize the Company's ability to continue as a going concern;
The Company's shares will no longer be listed on the NASDAQ Small Cap market.

January 19, 2005 Reuters
Shares of Avalon Correctional Services Inc. (CITY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 8 percent on Wednesday after the company said it received a notice of delisting or transfer from the Nasdaq stock exchange. The private prison operator said the Nasdaq's letter, received Jan. 12, stated that it must provide evidence of compliance with the exchange's rules on independent directors and audit committees or else face delisting. Two of the board's three audit committee members -- Chairman Robert McDonald and Charles Thomas -- resigned from the board effective Dec. 30, Avalon said on Tuesday. The company, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, said it has not decided how to respond to the Nasdaq letter. It is evaluating whether to remain a publicly traded company given the various costs of complying with the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Avalon shares were down 20 cents, or 8.2 percent, at $2.25 at midday Wednesday.

January 29, 2004
The Oklahoma County jail's only psychiatrist, who treats more than 600 mentally ill inmates, was fired Wednesday.  Dr. Bill Mitchell said the only reason he was given for his termination was that he did not "fit in.  Mitchell said he has been upset for months with operation of the medical unit because he could not easily get the more expensive medications that the mentally ill need, but he did not expect the abrupt firing.  "I didn't have any warning," he said.  The sheriff's office has a $4.2 million contract with Correctional Healthcare Management of Oklahoma Inc.  Chris Capoot, vice president of Correctional Healthcare Management Inc. of Parker, Colo., came to Oklahoma City on Wednesday to terminate Mitchell.  (Oklahoman)

August 12, 2002
This month primary elections could affect the operation of the Oklahoma County jail and whether it remains under the authority of Sheriff John Whetsel.  The committee is charged with recommending whether the county commissioners should take control of the jail for Whetsel and give it to a jail trust authority whose membership would include the commissioners.  Another option, the express trust, concerns Whetsel the most.  Under this option, the commissioners could form a trust similar to the one that operates the Tulsa County jail.  The measure would require just two of the three commissioners voting "yes".  The county would hire a private company to operate the detention center without a vote of the people or the consent of the sheriff.  "The problem with the jail is the funding," Inman said.  "It's been under funded since it's been built.  If you form a jail trust, it solves none of the problems."  Inman is urging voters to look at the Tulsa County Jail, where the sheriff lost control to an express jail trust authority formed by Tulsa County commissioners.  The commissioners hired a private company to manage the jail- a contract that has since proven controversial due to increased costs for housing inmates.  "It's a back-door way for the commissioners to take control away from the sheriff," Inman said.  "It allows the commissioners to tell the private company how to operate the jail."  (Oklahoman)

June 21, 2001
James Saffle has joined the Avalon management team as President, following his retirement as Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.  Mr. Saffle will direct Avalon's national growth by continuing to focus on community corrections markets, as well as target additional states with Avalon's innovative community corrections programs.  "This is an ideal time for many states to take a closer look at community corrections and alternative programming for the increasing inmate population.  Daily corrections operating costs continue to spiral upward, putting increased financial pressures on many states," said Saffle.  (Business Wire)

June 08, 2001
The former head of the state Corrections Department has taken over as president of a private corrections company.  James Saffle said he felt he could do more good with the type of people housed in facilities owned by Avalon Corrections Services.  Avalon, based in Oklahoma City, has operations in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.  Don Smith, Avalon's chief executive officer, first contacted Saffle in February after learning of his pending retirement.  Saffle started at Avalon on Tuesday.  His last day at the Corrections Department was June 1.  (AP)

May 17, 2001
Avalon Correctional Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: CITY), a leading owner and operator of private community correctional operations and specialized alternative programming, announced today the appointment of Dr. Charles W. Thomas to the Avalon Correctional Services Board of Directors.  Dr. Thomas served as a director of Prison Realty Trust, Inc. from 1997 until the merger of Prison Trust with the Corrections Corporation of America in October of 2000 and as a director of the Corrections Corporation of America from the date of the merger until December of 2000.  He also is a member of the Research Committee of the Associated of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations, the recently formed trade association that was created to represent the interests of private providers of correctional services.  (Business Wire)

Carver Center
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Avalon

December 8, 2006 The Oklahoman
A project by a private corrections company to expand its minimum-security center in Oklahoma City is in jeopardy after a state agency failed Thursday to act on its proposal to sell bonds to finance the deal. Southern Corrections System Inc., which is part of Avalon Correctional Services Inc., sought permission to raise $14.5 million through industrial development revenue bonds. Avalon, based in Oklahoma City, has operations in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. The Oklahoma Development Finance Authority earlier approved the deal, but members of the Council of Bond Oversight tabled the proposal. Council Chairman Cliff Elliott said the proposal lacked information. About $300,000 was listed for making improvements and expanding the Carver Center, 400 S May Ave., and about $1 million was proposed to renovate the company’s Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit in Tulsa from minimum security to medium security. The state Corrections Department leases space in both places to house state inmates. Southern Corrections also wanted to refinance a $3.5 million bond issue, according to its proposal. Council members, after wanting to know how the rest of the proposed bond issue would be spent, were given documents during Thursday’s meeting that showed money was to be spent to build a hangar for the company’s airplane, rebuild the plane’s engines, refinance a loan to buy the plane and purchase vehicles. The rest of the money went to unspecified or unclear purposes. "I don’t know what a lot of these are,” Elliott said. Eric Gray, vice president and corporate lawyer for Southern and Avalon, said after the meeting that a bond closing was set for Dec. 15. "It doesn’t happen is the short answer,” Gray said. "We’re just going to have to regroup. This is a total shock to us.”

Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility
McLoud, OK
Dominion
January 15, 2003
A deal that allows the Department of Corrections to purchase a private prison and transfer inmates from the Mabel Bassett Correctional Facility there could be finalized as soon as next month.  The DOC believes moving offenders from Mabel Basset, where the state's maximum-security female inmates are housed, to the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility in McLoud will save the agency money.  The private prison, which houses about 575 female inmates, is about 25 miles east of downtown Oklahoma City and can house about 1,100 offenders, Ward said. About 150 of the inmates in the McLoud prison are from Hawaii and Wyoming.  "Our plan is to continue to contract with those two states," Ward said. "We will have enough bed space to continue to do that. It is our plan to do that as long as it is mutually acceptable to all the parties." Edmond-based McLoud Correctional Services owns the prison and Dominion Correctional Services, also based in Edmond, operates it.  (AP)

October 25, 2002
The state Corrections Department moved a step closer Thursday to buying the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility in McLoud when its governing board approved a resolution that would authorize the state to spend up to $40 million for it.  The plan calls for the state to issue bonds that would allow the department to lease, then buy the prison.  The proposed budget also includes $8.6 million more for contract prison bed space.  Contract beds include private prisons and county jails.  (Daily Oklahoman)

October 24, 2001
Four Hawaii women inmates who said they were sexually assaulted by prison guards in Oklahoma will not be allowed to pursue their lawsuit here in Hawaii. The four said they were abused at the privately-run Central Oklahoma correctional facility -- they'd been sent there to relieve overcrowding at Hawaii prisons.   Judge David Ezra agreed with the mainland-prison company. The trial will be held in federal court in either Tulsa or Oklahoma City.  (The Hawaii Channel)

August 16, 2001
Inmates and former staff members at an Oklahoma prison where some female prisoners from Hawai'i are housed say illegal drugs are abundant there.  Wisconsin inmates who served time at the privately operated prison repeatedly told monitors from their home state that drugs were widely available there. Former prison employees told The Advertiser that the Oklahoma prison staff seemed unable or unwilling to cope with the drug problem.  A former inmate from Hawai'i, recently paroled after serving time at the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility, said drugs were far more plentiful in Oklahoma than at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua, where she had also served time.  Inmates at the Oklahoma prison had access to heroin, crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and marijuana, said the inmate, who asked that her name not be used because, as a parolee, she feared retribution from authorities.  The state first sent inmates to the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility outside Oklahoma City in 1998 and is negotiating a new contract with Dominion. The prison was operated by the Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp. until December, when the operation was taken over by Dominion.  Former prison staff members such as Sid Stell, who worked as a training officer, captain and acting chief of security at the prison, said drugs were so widely available by early last year that inmates would brazenly smoke marijuana in the six prison dormitories.  Linda Phipps, a former grievance officer and compliance officer who worked at the prison until March, said: "Drugs are rampant there. They are absolutely all over the place."  Sandra Green, who worked as a corrections officer at the prison in 1999 and 2000, said she was astonished at how often corrections officials turned up evidence of drug use. She estimated she smelled inmates smoking drugs inside the prison on 10 occasions. Once, she said, she saw inmates lined up out the door of a bathroom for a chance to smoke crack cocaine.  Stell was also responsible for training corrections officers at the prison, and drugs were a problem partly because the prison couldn't seem to recruit well-qualified staff.  (Honolulu Advertiser)

August 12, 2001
Three Hawai'i women who served time in a privately run Oklahoma prison claim they were sexually assaulted by prison staff there, and a fourth woman alleges she was "tortured" by prison officials after she complained that a prison lieutenant was sexually preying on women inmates.  One Kaua'i woman says she was forced to have sex with a guard, became pregnant and underwent an involuntary abortion at a prison medical facility.  The four Hawai'i women are suing the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety as well as Dominion Group, the company that operates the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility in McLoud. The federal court lawsuits allege that "more than a dozen" women locked up at the prison were raped or endured "unwanted sexual advances and other forms of improper behavior" by prison staff.  In the early 1990s, there were similar accusations of sexual misconduct involving female prisoners in Hawai'i. In a series of cases, about two dozen corrections workers were fired or charged with crimes. The state paid nearly $1 million to settle several lawsuits filed by female prisoners claiming they were sexually abused.  (Honolulu Advertiser)

Cimarron Correctional Facility
Cushing, OK
CCA

Jul 14, 2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former prison guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, who was originally charged with sexual battery of an inmate, was placed on one year's probation Friday on a reduced charge of committing an act resulting in gross injury offensive to public morals. Malinda Gayle Canaday, 34, of Stillwater -- whose surname was originally listed as Dunn on the now-dismissed felony sexual battery charge -- was later listed as having the last name of Frisbie, which was changed to Canaday on her written guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge, court records show. The defendant -- then listed as Dunn -- was questioned in March 2013 after an inmate "admitted to having a relationship with Dunn to CCF Investigator Joe Sebenick," Oklahoma Department of Corrections Internal Affairs Agent Casey Hamilton alleged in an affidavit. The inmate, who has been transferred from the private prison in Cushing to another facility, "stated the relationship began with them writing letters to one another approximately two months prior to the interview," the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated they would write letters and Dunn would talk to him about her personal life," the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated Dunn would allow him to leave his cell during counts to clean," the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated they started with kissing and holding one another in the office restroom and later progressed to having sexual intercourse," once in February and once in March of last year, the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated Dunn brought him food and snacks, but nothing else. He stated they had discussed bringing contraband into the facility; however, she had not done so," the affidavit alleged. "On March 21, 2013, Agents Hamilton and Randy Knight interviewed CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) Correctional Officer Malinda Dunn at the Cushing Police Department," during which she admitted to having had sexual intercourse with the inmate twice, the affidavit alleged. "She stated their relationship began with writing letters to one another, and eventually progressed to having sexual intercourse," the affidavit alleged. She said that the inmate "asked her to bring Skoal chewing tobacco into the facility but she declined," the affidavit alleged. According to state DOC records, the inmate has been in prison since 2010 on a seven-year sentence for a Tulsa County second-degree burglary -- after which he will begin serving a five-year sentence for possession of contraband by an inmate in 2011 in Atoka County.

The inmate also has Tulsa County convictions for:

* attempted car burglary in 2006;

* second-degree burglary in 2006;

* concealing stolen property in 2006;

* car burglary in 2006;

* eluding an officer in 2007;

* possession of a stolen vehicle in 2007;

* false pawn declaration in 2007.

Prior to being incarcerated on his 2010 second-degree burglary conviction, the inmate served less than two years in prison on his earlier charges, DOC records show. Since the felony sexual battery charge was dropped by the prosecution against the former Cushing prison guard on June 27, the maximum penalty she could have received for committing "an act which grossly injured the person or property of another and which was offensive to public morals," was one year in jail and a $500 fine, court records show.

 

Jul 2, 2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A Cushing woman was charged today with sexual battery of an inmate in the Cimarron Correctional Facility while she was employed as a nurse at the private prison in January. Kristi Anne Tate, 44, was mailed a letter today notifying her of the felony charge on which she was advised to appear in court on Aug. 5 or a warrant would be issued for her arrest. If convicted of the felony charge investigated by the state Department of Corrections, Tate could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, court records show.


05/19/2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former Cimarron Correctional Facility inmate has been ordered to appear in Payne County District Court on May 30 for a preliminary hearing on a charge of raping his then-cellmate in September. Neither the alleged victim nor the defendant remain in the private prison in Cushing, court records show. If convicted of anally raping his cellmate by force, Raul A. Salcedo, 23, could be sentenced to a prison term of not less than 20 years, court records show. The alleged incident at the Cimarron Correctional Facility was investigated by Oklahoma Department of Corrections Internal Affairs Division Agent Randy Knight, according to an affidavit. The alleged victim reported that on the first day he was assigned to the same cell as Salcedo, he was forced to perform oral sex on Salcedo, according to Knight's affidavit. The alleged victim reported that two days later, he was forced off his bed and anally raped by Salcedo, according to Knight's affidavit. When he was interviewed, Salcedo admitted to performing an intercourse act with his cellmate, but he said that it was consensual, the affidavit said. A sexual assault examination was performed on the alleged victim at the Stillwater Medical Center, the affidavit said. At the time of the alleged incident, Salcedo was serving a two-year sentence he was given in 2012 for knowingly concealing stolen property in Texas County in 2010, state DOC records show.


Mar 31, 2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former employee of the Cimarron Correctional Facility has been charged with sexually battering an inmate at the private prison in Cushing and bringing him contraband, described as a cell phone and tobacco. Linda Juanita Bogaski, 49, of Bethany, has been advised by a letter from the Payne County District Attorney's Office that she must appear for arraignment on the two-count charge April 24 or a warrant will be issued for her arrest.    In the two-count felony charge filed last week, Bogaski was accused of touching the body of an inmate between Christmas and New Year's Day while she was an employee of the prison in Cushing. Bogaski was also accused of bringing tobacco and a cell phone, which are contraband within the prison, and giving them to the inmate between Dec. 1 and Jan. 7. If convicted of both counts, the former Cushing prison employee could be incarcerated for seven years and fined $2,500, court records show.

 

11/04/2013 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former female guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility -- who is accused of being paid by a convicted rapist for bringing contraband to him in the private prison in Cushing  -- has been scheduled to appear in court Thursday on a two-count charge. Alyson Frances Posey, 23, of Pawnee, could be incarcerated for three years and fined $6,000 if convicted of receiving money from an inmate for providing goods to him and bringing contraband, described as tobacco, into the Cushing prison.  The inmate was listed in the allegation as Reeco Cole, 35, who is serving an 80-year sentence at the Cushing prison for first-degree rape, attempted rape, forcible oral sodomy, kidnapping, robbery by force, and pointing a weapon, all in Tulsa County in 1999, state Department of Corrections records show.     Oklahoma DOC Internal Affairs Agents Casey Hamilton and Randy Knight interviewed Corrections Corporation of America Correctional Officer Posey at the Cushing Police Department on March 29, an affidavit said. "Posey admitted to introducing contraband into the facility for offender Recco Cole; however she denied having a sexual relationship with him," Hamilton alleged in an affidavit filed in court records last week. "Posey stated she was approached by Cole during job training on Dec. 24, 2012. Posey stated Cole provided her with his cellular telephone number and instructed her to call him," the affidavit alleged. "Posey stated Cole told her he was owed money by the father of one of her children," who is incarcerated at another prison in Oklahoma, the affidavit alleged.     Posey said that Cole told her she would have to pay off his debt "or he would have him touched, meaning assaulted," the affidavit alleged. "Posey stated she would bring tobacco into the facility twice a week and did so approximately seven to eight times from January to February 2013," the affidavit alleged. "Posey stated she also met with an unidentified female in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on two separate occasions to pick up packages of which she did not know the contents," the affidavit alleged. "Posey provided her GE Money Bank Green Dot card and stated Cole would put money on the card for bringing him packages," the affidavit alleged. "Posey admitted to sending nude photographs of herself to Cole and allowed the photographs to be observed by Agents Hamilton and Knight," the affidavit alleged. "Following Posey's interview, she provided the transaction from her Green Dot account. Agent Hamilton found 13 cash credits posted to her account on six separate dates totaling $735," the affidavit alleged. "Agent Hamilton was not able to determine who posted the money to Posey's account," the affidavit said. "On April 3, 2013, Hamilton conducted an interview with Reeco Cole, "who denied having any relationship with Posey, the affidavit said. "Cole stated he never received contraband from Posey and denied having conversations with her on a cellular telephone," the affidavit said. "Cole stated he is currently 'level 4' and would not do anything to jeopardize his levels. Cole stated he would deal with the consequences; however, he maintained his innocence," the affidavit said. In addition to his Tulsa County cases, Cole is serving a concurrent prison term totaling 33 years for armed robbery, kidnapping by extortion, car theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, knowingly concealing stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon, all in 1999 in Okmulgee County, DOC records show.

 

10/22/2013 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A  convicted murderer is due to appear in court on Nov. 5 on charges of choking and forcibly anally raping a man at Cimarron Correctional Facility while they were incarcerated in the private prison in Cushing last summer. The defendant, Terry Joe Hammons, 29, who is now being held at Lexington Correctional Center, is serving a life prison term for first-degree murder in Pottawatomie County in 2007, state Department of Corrections records show. If convicted of first-degree rape after a former felony conviction and assault and battery by strangulation after a former felony conviction, Hammons could be sentenced to life in prison without parole -- plus 10 years. The alleged June 29 attack was investigated by the Cimarron Correctional Facility, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, according to court documents. Twenty witnesses were listed on the two-count felony charge that was filed last week in Payne County District Court.

 

May 11, 2013  www.newson6.com

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Puerto Rico's corrections secretary says he is canceling a $9.1 million program under which the U.S. territory had sent hundreds of inmates to a prison in Oklahoma. Jose Negron Fernandez says the island has enough space and money to absorb the inmates and the last of them are returning Saturday. Puerto Rico's previous administration had signed the agreement with Corrections Corporation of America to send as many as 480 male inmates to the Cimarron prison in Cushing, Oklahoma. The island of 3.7 million people currently has more than 12,000 inmates, with an overall capacity for nearly 14,000 prisoners.


Mar 6, 2013  tulsaworld.com

A private prison operator declined to call a four-hour Sunday disturbance at Cushing prison a riot, even though inmates smashed windows, breached security doors and were pepper sprayed after fashioning weapons from destroyed property, records show. In a written statement, Corrections Corporation of America characterized Sunday's incident at the  Cimarron Correctional Facility as "inmates being disruptive in one of the housing units." The company emphasized in its statement that there were no reported inmate or staff injuries and "minimal property damage." "Facility management and staff isolated the inmates involved and the situation was resolved," CCA spokesman Mike Machak said in an email to the Tulsa World. He called it a "disruptive event" that involved a single housing unit, which holds prisoners on behalf of the Puerto Rican government that CCA supervises under a contract. No Oklahoma inmates under the authority of the Department of Corrections were involved, officials said. The Cushing prison has 1,720 beds, with about one-third reserved for the Puerto Rican prisoners. DOC holds about 18,000 inmates at all security levels and about 5,000 inmates are held in private prisons in the state, records show. Through an Open Records Act request, the Tulsa World obtained emails and incident reports showing the incident began sometime around 1 p.m. Sunday. It took guards nearly five hours before all offenders were secured and returned to their cells, records show. An email from the facility's DOC contract monitor described the aftermath and damage and said the incident had all the elements "of a major disturbance." According to a prison incident report, the disturbance started as a dispute between the Puerto Rican inmates and staff after several inmates refused to go on lockdown for the 2 p.m. inmate count unless they spoke to the unit manager or an assistant warden. A captain entered the unit and noticed that offenders from all three pods were "congested against the glass windows and pod doors," the report states. Around 2 p.m., the inmates breached a door on the unit, and all staff members were removed from the unit. "The offenders breached in the rotunda area and began breaking property and equipment located in the rotunda and on the pods," the report states. The inmates smashed windows, broke locks and electrical equipment, destroyed computers and telephones and knocked holes in walls, records show. "Inmates had fashioned weapons out of destroyed property and were throwing items at staff as they entered the pod," the report states. "Bean bag rounds and pepper balls were used to gain compliance and protect staff." The inmates were secured in their cells by 5:41 p.m., according to the report. During the disturbance, the Cushing Police Department and Payne County Sheriff's Office were notified and provided "outside perimeter support," Machak said. "The incident is under review at this time, and that review will determine appropriate disciplinary actions, including referral for criminal charges regarding the destruction of property," he said. Inmates destroyed desks, computers, printers, telephones, televisions and microwaves, a Playstation unit and video games, according to an email obtained by the World. The records did not contain a cost estimate of the damage. The contract monitor, a DOC employee, wrote in an email that the entire unit had the odor "of OC (pepper) spray and chemical gas lingering in the air, causing staff and this monitor to use tear gas mask to enter unit." Staff were using fans to settle the chemical gas dust and pull in fresh air, he said. The Puerto Rican offenders will remain on lockdown status until further notice, officials said. Last year, DOC officials proposed an amendment to state law governing operations of private prisons housing out-of-state inmates. The amendment would have forced companies housing such inmates in Oklahoma to provide information if requested by DOC on riots, escapes or serious incidents. DOC would have been able to fine companies that did not comply, under the proposal. Currently, CCA and other private prison operators are required to provide information to DOC on incidents involving Oklahoma inmates but not those from other jurisdictions. A Senate bill proposing the change authored by Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, passed a vote of the public safety committee, but the measure has since been pulled, his staff said. The change was proposed in response to a December 2011 prison riot at CCA's North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, where 46 inmates were injured and scant information about the riot was released by the company. Cimarron Correctional Facility, Capacity: 1,720 General  population, Oklahoma beds: 900, Oklahoma restrictive housing: 40, Puerto Rico beds: 480, Puerto Rico restrictive housing: 120, Medical unit: 7, Beds Not In Use: 120, Contractor per diem: $44.03

January 10, 2013 Associated Press
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Two Puerto Rican prison officials on their way to a private prison in Oklahoma to pick up at least one inmate were killed Thursday in a head-on collision in northern Oklahoma, authorities said. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said the crash occurred about 5 a.m. on Oklahoma 177 between Stillwater and Perkins when a vehicle driven by Michell Maria Anastasia, 49, of Perkins, crossed the center line of the highway and collided with the van carrying four Puerto Rican officials. Anastasia and Mayra Ramirez, 54, and Eliezer Colon Claussells, both of Puerto Rico, all died as a result of the collision, the patrol said. Two passengers in the van were taken to a Stillwater hospital in serious condition with head and other injuries, according to the patrol. Randolph said witnesses told troopers that Anastasia's vehicle appeared to be speeding when it crossed the center line into the southbound lane and crashed into the van. The van was headed to the Cimarron Prison Facility in Cushing, which is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. The prison houses medium- and minimum-security inmates, including about 400 Puerto Rican inmates, through a contract with the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections, company spokesman Steve Owen said. "This was an extradition team from Puerto Rico," Owen said. "Whenever an inmate is ready to be released, discharged, paroled or whatever, Puerto Rico sends a team to pick them up." "This team was en route to the facility when the accident occurred," he said. The prison also houses inmates from Oklahoma under a contract with the state. Cushing is about 70 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

August 22, 2012 KUSH
Two inmates at the Cimarron Correctional Facility have been ordered to appear in court Aug. 30 on charges of attacking a guard at the private prison in Cushing. Prosecutor Mike Kulling told KUSH that the inmates are being held in the Cimarron Correctional Facility for Puerto Rico and that he does not yet have information on their crimes or sentences. The prisoners, Miguel Cabrera Quiara, 33, and Rafmar De Leon Santana, 25, have been charged together with pushing and hitting a guard on July 23. The guard reported the alleged assault the following day to the Cushing Police Department, according to an affidavit by Cushing Police Detective Adam Harp. The guard said that he was "walking around giving laundry bags to each inmate," and that when he opened a cell door, "inmate Rafmar pushed the cell door into his chest," the affidavit alleged. The guard said that "both Miguel and Rafmar came out of their cell and started to push him," the affidavit alleged. The guard said "that he tried to run away towards the first floor and that both inmates chased him and began assaulting him," the affidavit alleged.

July 7, 2011 KUSH
A convicted double murderer who has been serving two life prison terms without the possibility of parole since 1991 has been ordered to appear in court July 11 on a charge of punching a guard in the face at Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. If convicted of assault and battery on a private prison employee, Bennie Dwight Jones, 39, could receive a maximum penalty of an additional two-year prison term and a $1,000 fine, court records show.

May 3, 2011 KUSH
A former guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing was ordered Monday to stand trial on a charge of bringing two cell phones and several pouches of tobacco into secure areas of the private prison in Cushing. Danny James Galbreath, 24, of Broken Arrow, waived his right Monday to a preliminary hearing on the felony count of bringing cell phones into the prison -- which are considered contraband in a penal facility. Galbreath remains free on $15,000 bail pending his arraignment in district court on May 27 on the two-count charge including the misdemeanor count of bringing tobacco into the prison -- which is also considered contraband. Galbreath was arrested at the prison shortly after noon on Jan. 5, by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts, who was sent there on a report of an employee bringing contraband into the prison, court records show. Prison Chief of Security Donald Steer told the Cushing officer that an inmate had provided information that Galbreath "has been bringing cellular phones and tobacco into the facility," Watts wrote in an affidavit. "Chief Steer then showed me a written statement completed by Corrections Officer Galbreath admitting to bringing in the contraband," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "I asked Corrections Officer Galbreath what he has brought into the prison. He told me two cellular phones and several pouches of tobacco," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "Corrections Officer Galbreath told me that he received $100 per phone and $50 per pouch of tobacco," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "I asked Corrections Officer Galbreath how he got paid to bring in the contraband, and he told me that he had to meet an inmate's mother at her residence and she gave him the money," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "Corrections Officer Galbreath continued to say that he would then take the money, and use a portion of the money to purchase a $20 cell phone or the tobacco," the affidavit alleged. Galbreath said he got the phones inside the prison by taping them to the inside of his forearm, the affidavit alleged. "Corrections Officer Galbreath said that when the metal detectors would go off, the officer would pat-search him, but would not search the underside of his forearm," the affidavit alleged. "I asked how he got the tobacco into the prison and he said that he would put the tobacco into bags of chips when he walked into the prison," the officer alleged in his affidavit.

February 7, 2011 KUSH
A teenage visitor to the private prison in Cushing who admitted smuggling marijuana into the Cimarron Correctional Facility on Valentine's Day of last year has been placed on two years' probation. Yesenia Ochoa, 19, must pay a $500 fine, $100 to the victims' compensation fund, $50 to the District Attorney's Drug Fund and $150 for a state crime bureau laboratory fee. She must perform 50 hours of community service by July 21. If the Oklahoma City teen successfully completes her probation, she will not have a criminal record for bringing marijuana into the Cushing prison, since she was given a deferred sentence on Jan. 21. She was arrested by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts on Feb. 14, 2010, at about 11 a.m., an hour after he and Cushing Police Officer Bill McCarty were sent to the Cimarron Correctional Facility, court records show. "Captain Christian (of the prison staff) told me that a visitor, Yesenia Ochoa, was seen passing something to an inmate, Roy Smith, while in the visitation room and when the inmate was asked what the object was, he replied 'marijuana,' Watts wrote in an affidavit. "Yesenia told me, 'I brought some stuff in.' I asked Yesenia if she knew what the 'stuff' was, and she said 'no,' Watts wrote in his affidavit. "Yesenia told me that she is always getting calls from different people wanting her to do things for them and for Roy. "Yesenia told me that about a month ago, she had received a call from a man that wanted her to take an item to Roy. I asked Yesenia if she knew who the man was and she said, 'no.' "I asked Yesenia how she got the item into the prison and she told me that she had it inside the front of her pants. "Yesenia said that once she got to the visitation room, she unzipped the front of her pants, took the object out, and passed it to Roy," the Cushing officer wrote in his affidavit.

January 11, 2011 KUSH
A Broken Arrow man was charged today with bringing two cell phones and several pouches of tobacco into secure areas of the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing on Jan. 5. Danny James Galbreath, 24, was released on $15,000 bond Friday following his arrest in the case investigated by Cushing police, a jail spokesman said. He was ordered to return to court on Jan. 13 with an attorney for arraignment on the two-count charge.

December 11, 2010 KUSH
A former case manager at the Cimarron Correctional Facility was placed on two years' probation Friday for bringing cell phones, which are considered contraband, into the private prison in Cushing. Tamara D. Davidson, 52, had pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a five-year prison term and $1,000 fine. Since she was given a deferred sentence, Davidson will not have a criminal record if she completes probation. As part of a plea bargain approved in court Friday by Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler, Davidson was ordered to obtain full-time employment, take a life skills course, pay a $250 fine, and perform 50 hours of community service within six months. Cushing prison investigator Joe Sebenick told Cushing police on April 23 that on April 21, "case manager Tamara Davidson attempted to come through the lobby into the facility with three cell phones," Cushing Police Detective Adam Harp wrote in an affidavit. "During the screen process (at the prison), the front desk employee suspected an unusual object being viewed in the x-ray machine. "It was later discovered that Davidson was attempting to introduce contraband, three cell phones into the facility for three inmates," the affidavit said. "Investigator Sebenick interviewed Davidson who admitted to attempting to introduce the contraband, three cell phones to three different inmates. "The cell phones were inside the Subway sandwich at the time she was attempting to get it through security. "Davidson told Investigator Sebenick that she is having financial difficulties, and this was the first attempt on her part to have tried to introduce contraband into the facility," the affidavit said. When the Cushing police detective interviewed Davidson by phone on April 23, "Davidson admitted that she attempted to get three cell phones into the prison by placing the phones in a Subway sandwich. "Davidson said that she was going to give the phones to three inmates for a total of $300. Davidson said that she was given $100 for one of the cell phones by an inmate and used the rest to buy diapers, etc. "Davidson said that she wanted to make more money because her house payment and insurance went up and needed to pay bills," the affidavit said.

October 11, 2010 KUSH
A Cimarron Correctional Facility visitor pleaded guilty Friday to bringing marijuana and tobacco into the Cushing private prison to an inmate on his birthday. Lisa Victoria Frazier, 31, of Ada, had been jailed for three weeks after being arrested on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court in June. She was freed on a personal recognizance bond Friday by Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler, who ordered her to return to court on Dec. 10 for sentencing. She was originally arrested by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts in March for delivering marijuana and contraband to inmate Notice Burns, Cushing Police Detective Adam Harp wrote in an affidavit. Burns, who has a long criminal history, is serving 15 years in prison for drug distribution, drug possession, endeavoring to distribute drugs and bringing contraband in jail, all in 2007 in Pontotoc County, records show. In Payne County, Burns admitted that he possessed marijuana in the Cushing prison on March 28, for which he received a five-year prison term concurrent to his Pontotoc County sentences on June 18. When Frazier was interviewed by prison Investigator Joe Sebenick and the Cushing police detective the day after her arrest, she admitted "she has been delivering narcotics and contraband into the prison every weekend for the past six months," the affidavit said. Regarding the March 28 incident, "Frazier admitted to Officer Watts that she brought the marijuana and tobacco wrapped in black electrical tape and gave it to inmate Burns during visitation," the affidavit said. "Frazier admitted to Officer Watts that inmate Burns asked her to get the items from Oklahoma City and deliver them to him at the prison," the affidavit said.

August 22, 2010 The Oklahoman
More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars. Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga. "There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business." If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said. The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit. Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve. The business of incarceration -- Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said. Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security. If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract. Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau. Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said. Earnings increase -- Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation. "We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities. In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years." GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well. This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there. Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space. Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees. Displaced inmates and jobs -- Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis. There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state -- the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s. "Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more." At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected. The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona. It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again. He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted. In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.

August 13, 2010 Oklahoman
A Muskogee federal court jury Thursday found that a private prisons operator violated the employment rights of a shift supervisor by terminating his job when he was deployed to Iraq as a combat adviser. Jurors recommended that Corrections Corporation of America be ordered to pay veteran Dennis Weems, of Terlton, about $53,000 for violating his employment rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, an attorney in the case said. The federal act prohibits employers from denying initial employment, re-employment, retention in employment, promotion or any benefit of employment to a member of the military on the basis of his or her military service. Weems contended in the lawsuit that Corrections Corporation of America discriminated not only against him, but also against other members of the uniformed services who were called to active duty. About the case -- Tulsa attorney Daniel Sullivan, who represented Corrections Corporation of America, strongly denied his client makes it a practice to discriminate against military employees, saying the corporation has been recognized by G.I. Jobs as one of the "Top 100 Military Friendly Employers" in the country. In Weems' case, however, Sullivan acknowledges mistakes were made. Sullivan said the human resources person at CCA's Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing had left and the person performing those duties sent letters containing improper statements to Weems on two occasions. The first letter, dated Sept. 8, 2008, stated the employer had processed paperwork indicating that Weems had "voluntarily resigned ... based on the fact that you have been deployed on military leave for a period that extends beyond 30 days." Sullivan said Weems was terminated from the payroll system to accommodate his military service but should not have been told that he was considered to have voluntarily resigned. "It was an error," Sullivan said. "Unfortunately, as in a lot of cases, when one error is made it seems to get compounded." In this case, the compounding occurred when Weems returned from his military service and sought his job back, the attorney indicated. Sullivan said Corrections Corporation offered to reinstate Weems in his previous position with full pay, but attached an acceptance letter sent to all new hires stating that he would be an "at will employee" who could be "terminated, with or without cause, at any time at the discretion of either the company or myself." Other allegations -- Sullivan said Weems should not have been sent that attachment because of his military service. Weems had been deployed more than 180 days, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act has a provision that states because of that service, he could only be fired for cause the first year after his return, Sullivan said. In his lawsuit, Weems contended he wasn't the only military employee of Corrections Corporation of America who was discriminated against. He said one employee who had been earning $14 an hour before being deployed to Iraq was required to begin his employment anew at a rate of $8.50 an hour after his return. In another case, Weems said his CCA supervisor ordered him to convince another employee who received deployment orders to accept a part-time position before leaving so he could be put in a part-time job upon his return. Weems said he "refused to become a part of the scheme."

January 20, 2010 KUSH
A former inmate in Cushing's private prison was charged Friday with repeatedly stabbing another inmate in the Cimarron Correctional Facility with a home-made knife on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Defendant Andy Quintana, 26, has been transferred to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester where he is serving an 8-year prison term he was given four years ago for drug trafficking in Oklahoma County in 2002, state Department of Corrections records show. If convicted of his Payne County charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after a former felony conviction, Quintana could be given an additional 10-year prison term, according to the charge filed Friday. His alleged victim, Jose Gomez Jr., 29, who remains in the Cushing prison, is currently serving two concurrent five-year prison terms for escape from a penal institution and drug possession, both in 2006 in Tulsa County, DOC records show.

October 10, 2009 KUSH
An inmate in Cushing's private prison -- who was sent to the lockup in Payne County after being convicted of escaping from another prison -- was charged Wednesday with possessing marijuana while incarcerated in the Cimarron Correctional Facility on Sept. 26. Robert Lee Brown, 24, could receive as much as a 20-year prison term and a $10,000 fine if convicted of possessing the illegal drug in the Cushing prison, court records show. Brown arrived at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in February 2008 to serve a two-year sentence for escaping from the Department of Corrections in Osage County, DOC records show.

October 6, 2009 KUSH
An inmate in Cushing's private prison has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of assault and battery on a guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Christopher A. Cardwell, 23, Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing on an accusation that he punched Correctional Officer Craig Sharp in the face numerous times on May 22. Cardwell, who is 6'5" and weighs 200 pounds, could be given as much as five more years in prison if convicted of the felony charge on which he is due to be arraigned in trial court on Oct. 16. Cushing Police Officer Adam Harp wrote in an affidavit, "I asked inmate Cardwell if Sharp had disrespected him or provoked him and he said no that he was just doing his job. "Inmate Cardwell said that he was sorry for assaulting Sharp and that Sharp had never been disrespectful towards him in the past." The inmate said that on May 22 at about 6:45 p.m. "Sharp approached them in the Alpha South Unit dayroom and told them to lock up -- meaning to return to their cells. "Inmate Cardwell said that lately it has been rough on him due to him not being able to receive letters from his girl and other situations. "Inmate Cardwell said that he felt that the recreational time was not enough and did not want to lock up. Inmate Cardwell said that he told Sharp that he was not going to lock up. "Inmate Cardwell said that Sharp looked down towards his duty belt as to grab hardcuffs and that he hit him in the face no less than four times nor more than ten. "Inmate Cardwell said that he knew that the first three punches hit Sharp in the face area," the affidavit alleged. The incident was reported at the Cushing Police Department by Sharp on May 29, a week after it occurred, court records show. "Sharp said that he asked inmate Cardwell to lock down, meaning to go back to his cell. Sharp said that inmate Cardwell told him that he did not want to lock down -- that he needs to ship, meaning that he was afraid to go back to general population. "Sharp said that after inmate Cardwell made the comment that he hit him two to three times with a closed fist in the face area. "Sharp said that inmate Cardwell continued to hit him, but that he had blocked his punches. "Sharp said that he was able to get help and eventually control inmate Cardwell. "Sharp said that his glasses broke due to inmate Cardwell assaulting him. "I asked Sharp if he sufferred any injuries from the assault and he said no," Harp wrote in his affidavit.

April 30, 2009 KUSH
A Stillwater Man has been with smuggling marijuana into the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. Jerome Wendell Williams, 25, was formally charged April 29th by the Payne County District Attorney's office with bringing contraband into a penal institution. If convicted, Williams faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 1000 dollars. According to court documents, Williams was employed by the prison.

December 16, 2008 Tulsa World
Taking a tougher approach, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has withheld more than $589,000 in payments to private prison operators in the past year because of staffing shortages. Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has had five payments of $40,000 or more withheld since December for failing to fill vacancies within 45 days, including several positions in the medical field. In April, the state withheld $59,191 in payments because 19 positions remained unfilled within 45 days. Among them was a clinical supervisor slot that DOC officials said had been open for 457 days. The Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville also has had about $76,000 in payments withheld since August because of staffing incidents. Both facilities are owned by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville. A company official says it has had difficulty filling medical positions because of a nationwide shortage. In addition to the money it has already withheld, the DOC has another $50,000 in fines pending for November. The DOC has withheld payments to private prisons in 28 instances since last December for failing to fill positions in a timely manner. The department's decision to penalize private prisons financially for contract violations stems from a recommendation made in a performance audit of the Department of Corrections requested last year by the Oklahoma Legislature. "The audit felt like we were giving too many warnings to private prisons and that we needed to start doing more liquidated damages," DOC Director Justin Jones said last week. An official with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which sought information on the fines, said the organization is concerned whether private prison contractors are actually fixing the problems, or simply paying the fines. Mark Beutler, director of communications, said Monday that OPEA is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will make contractors more transparent. "We believe contractors should be held more accountable in reporting violations and also in the ways they are spending taxpayers' money," Beutler said. Calling the shortage of medical personnel a problem for prisons, Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen said the company is making a good faith effort to fill its medical services vacancies as quickly as possible. Until the positions are filled, Owen said the facilities will hire part-time employees or pay overtime to prevent a drop-off in services. "This is hitting us in the wallet, but it's not costing the taxpayer," Owen said. The state has about 4,540 inmates housed in three private prisons in the state. In addition to the CCA facilities in Cushing and Holdenville, the third private prison that contracts with DOC is the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Lawton facility has had about $23,000 in fines since last December, including about $10,000 that is pending for November. The facility is owned by the GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. The performance audit, which was released Dec. 31, 2007, said the enforcement of liquidated damages provisions in the state's contract with private prisons was extremely rare and time-consuming. "DOC's process is somewhat cumbersome in that it requires multiple levels of consideration by executive staffs," the audit report said. It called DOC's failure to use liquidated damages effectively "a serious problem with DOC's management process" that has eroded the credibility of the contract monitoring system. In the past, DOC has used more informal sanctions in response to contract breaches, which sometimes resulted in adjustments in a facility's population level. "As system crowding worsens, however, the flexibility to reduce population in response to problems diminishes significantly," the audit reported.

March 4, 2008 KUSH
A visitor at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has been placed on five years' probation for possessing marijuana and money at the private prison -- both of which are considered illegal contraband in a penal institution. Melissa Shalone Simien, 39, of Tulsa, had pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which was filed after a drug detection dog at the prison alerted on her, court records show. In accordance with a plea bargain Friday, she was given a five-year deferred sentence and ordered to pay a $500 fine, a $50 contribution to the District Attorney's Drug Fund and $150 for a state crime bureau laboratory fee, court records show. She was also ordered by Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. to perform 150 hours of community service within a year and complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, as well as any required follow-up, court records show. Simien was arrested on July 9, 2005, at the Cushing prison where she had gone to visit inmate Darrius Payne, then serving an eight-year sentence from Tulsa County for drug possession with intent to distribute, state DOC records show. He also had served time for robbery, burglary and escape, DOC records show.

December 29, 2007 KUSH
A visitor at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, who admitted in court documents that she had marijuana and money at the private prison in Cushing, has a plea bargain to receive probation at her Jan. 25 sentencing for possessing contraband in a penal institution. Melissa Shalone Simien, 39, of Tulsa, told authorities, "I drove someone's car to Cushing Correctional Center to visit a friend," whom she had dated before he went to prison, according to court documents. Although she pleaded guilty in September to Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr., Simien complained in a background report compiled by the state Department of Corrections in November, "For two years and four months, I have been going back and forth to court, for something that I didn't do." Simien's plea bargain calls for her to receive a five-year deferred sentence, pay a $500 fine, contribute $50 to the District Attorney's Drug Fund, pay $150 to the state crime bureau laboratory for a drug analysis, and perform 150 hours of community service, court records show. Simien admitted in the background report that she was convicted in Louisiana of food stamp frand and receiving welfare assistance by fraud in 1996, for which she said she paid restitution. She was arrested on July 9, 2005, at the Cushing prison where she had gone to visit inmate Darrius Payne, then serving an eight-year sentence from Tulsa County for drug possession with intent to distribute, state DOC records show. He also had served time for robbery, burglary, escape and failure to comply with a personal recognizance bond, DOC records show.

May 9, 2007 Cushing Daily Citizen
The mother of an inmate in Cushing's private prison has been placed on probation for three years for smuggling the drug Valium into the Cimarron Correctional Facility during a visit on Labor Day. While she was visiting her son, Donna Maxine Kirby, 47, was watched on a video monitor by correctional officers in the prison, an affidavit by Correctional Officer Berl Stinson said. At her sentencing, Donna Kirby was also fined $500, ordered to contribute $50 to the District Attorney's Drug Fund, assessed a $150 fee for a state crime bureau laboratory test and told to complete cognitive behavior training, court records show. Her husband, Charles Oliver Kirby Jr., 60, who had the drug in his right sock, was charged with his wife as a co-defendant with smuggling contraband into a penal institution. Charles Kirby was placed on probation for three years, fined $500, ordered to contribute $50 to the DA's Drug Fund, assessed a $150 fee for a state crime bureau laboratory test, told to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, as well as any follow-up, and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, and continue mental health treatment. The Kirbys were sentenced by Payne County Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. on April 27 in accordance with their plea bargains. They had pleaded guilty in February. The Kirbys were arrested last September on warrants and released from jail after posting $5,000 bond each on the felony charge, which carries a maximum five-year prison term and $1,000 fine on conviction. "Donna Kirby apologized for bringing the item of contraband into the prison and stated that her reason for doing so was the fact that her inmate son had been threatened by other inmates if he did not provide them with contraband," the affidavit said.

August 11, 2006 KTEN
An Oklahoma judge is refusing to dismiss charges against eight black inmates in connection with a fatal Cushing prison riot. The inmates claim they were selectively prosecuted based on race because no white inmates were charged. But a Payne County judge says no evidence was presented to support their claim. About 40 black inmates allegedly beat about 20 white inmates with baseball bats and horseshoes in a recreation area at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in March 2005. Adam Gene Lippert of Davenport, a member of a white prison gang, was slain and 20 inmates were injured. Inmate Eric M. Johnson, a convicted killer from Tulsa County, is charged with first-degree murder. Others were charged with participating in the riot.

June 6, 2006 Cushing Daily Citizen
A convicted murderer pleaded guilty Tuesday to stabbing an inmate at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, about three weeks after a racially-motivated riot at the Cushing private prison that left one inmate dead and 15 injured. David Jovann Davis, 25, was given a 20-year prison term concurrent with a life sentence he is serving on a 1998 conviction for first-degree murder in Muskogee County. Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said that Davis accepted a plea bargain Tuesday rather than go to trial this month on the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge in the Cushing prison stabbing. "We believe this conviction will keep him from ever being eligible for parole. We expect that he will die in prison," Hudson said. Davis was charged with stabbing inmate Jeremy Deeter, 29, three times in the neck with a homemade knife in a dayroom "right in front of guard witnesses," on April 15, 2005, prosecutor Tom Lee said.

April 25, 2006 Cushing Daily Citizen
A Cushing woman has been charged with possession of marijuana at the Cimarron Correctional Facility while she was working at the private prison in Cushing as a guard. Niki L. Ventris, 27, was arrested by Cushing Police Officer Adam Harp after a drug dog hit on her vehicle in the prison parking lot on April 8, an affidavit said. Ventris, who was released from jail after posting $5,000 bond, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment April 10. She is due to return to court May 8 when she can ask for a preliminary hearing on the felony charge.

December 28, 2005 Cushing Daily Citizen
A visitor to Cushing's private prison who was arrested after a drug dog hit on her hands during a narcotics checkpoint inside the facility has been placed on probation for five years. Suzanne Putnam, 41, will not have a criminal record if she successfully completes probation, since she was given a deferred sentence as part of a plea bargain Dec. 23. Putnam admitted carrying the prescription drugs, Xanax and Diazepam, into the Cimarron Correctional Facility on Nov. 22, 2004, when she also had marijuana and drug paraphernalia in her car, according to her guilty plea.

December 2, 2005 KOTV
An update on a riot at a private prison in Cushing earlier this year, where one inmate was killed. The riot was caught on tape and one inmate has been charged with murder. The judge has now set a trial date. Eric Johnson is accused of killing Adam Lippert in the Cimarron Correction facility in Cushing. The riot in question happened back in March and was caught on a prison surveillance camera. The riot occurred in the recreation area of the prison. Adam Lippert was fatally stabbed during this riot and the defense attorney says this video will show that his client was several yards away from Lippert during the brawl.

August 18, 2005 Oklahoman
The Cushing prison is in lockdown and an inmate who was stabbed Tuesday morning still is in a hospital, a prison spokeswoman said Wednesday. The two inmates accused of attacking him have been moved to segregated housing, said Linda Hurst, warden’s assistant at the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Although two inmates are accused in the stabbing, Hurst wouldn’t say whether the victim suffered multiple stab wounds.

August 17, 2005 KOTV
For the third time this year, an inmate has been stabbed at the same Oklahoma prison. It happened at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. It's a private prison, which remains on lockdown following the stabbing on Tuesday. Officials say the inmate was stabbed in the chest and abdomen, but his injuries are not life-threatening. Two people are in isolation and a weapon was confiscated after the stabbing.

August 10, 2005 Oklahoman
Four inmates accused of participating in a prison riot in which an inmate was killed were ordered Tuesday to stand trial in Payne County District Court. Payne County Special Judge Phillip Corley found probable cause that Cedric D. Poore, 31; Eugene Gutierrez, 33; Shawn P. Byrd, 32; and Jason J. Williamson, 22, participated in the March 22 riot at Cimarron Correctional Facility that left inmate Adam Lippert dead from stab wounds. The four men have been charged with participating in a riot that resulted in a death.

June 24, 2005 The Daily Oklahoman
 Inmate work programs will be added at two state prisons in the coming months. The Corrections Board on Thursday approved two new service partnership programs: one with Jacobs Trading Co., based in Plymouth, Minn., and another with The Oklahoman, based in Oklahoma City. The Jacobs Trading Co. will pay $5.15 to $5.50 an hour for inmates to repackage items for sale at Dollar General and other discount stores. About 15-20 inmates will be employed at first with a target roster of 30-32 inmates. The program will be at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft. It was formerly at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing.

June 20, 2005 The Association Press State & Local Wire
A drug-smuggling ring that provided inmates at a private prison with marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroine will be the focus of a multi-county grand jury investigation that begins Tuesday.  Officials have tracked more than $200,000 coming from 14 states used to buy the drugs for inmates at the Lawton Correctional Facility, said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. At least 100 inmates are suspected customers.  Inmates and their families organized the shipments and a guard suspected of helping run the operation brought the drugs from Oklahoma City, according to court records.  Former correctional officer Michael McClain is accused of being the main supplier.  "He could get whatever they wanted as long as they paid," Woodward said.  McClain resigned in February, said Pablo Paez, a spokesman for Geo Group Inc., which owns the private prison. The prison houses about 1,900 medium- and minimum-security inmates. About one in five were convicted of drug crimes.  Inmate Darrin Brewer, 38, told investigators he was facilitating drug deals while incarcerated in Lawton, Tim Coppick, an investigator with the Department of Corrections, wrote in a warrant filed in Oklahoma County. Brewer is on parole after serving time for trafficking and delivering narcotics.  Brewer said he orchestrated the operation by using a cell phone McClain smuggled into the prison. Inmates are not allowed to have cell phones.  Investigators uncovered a similar scheme last year at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing. That prison is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. Five people, including a guard, were charged.
 

July 13, 2005 Oklahoman
Two of seven inmates charged in connection with a riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing will stand trial, a judge ruled Tuesday. Eric M. Johnson will go to trial for first-degree murder, according to the Payne County District Attorney's office. Cedars More will be tried for participating in a riot that resulted in death. He originally was charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors amended it. Adam Lippert, 32, was stabbed to death March 22 during the Cimarron riot.

 June 4, 2005 Stillwater News Press
A seventh man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a prison inmate during a riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Prosecutors this week charged Mark Anthony Ford, 30, in the March 22 murder of Adam Lippert after law enforcement officers identified him while reviewing videotapes of the riot, according to an affidavit written by Cushing Police Officer Curtis Booher. Lippert, 32, died as a result of stab wounds sustained during the riot, according to Booher's affidavit. Lippert was stabbed in the face, scalp, chest, abdomen, shoulder, elbow, arm and trunk, according to the affidavit.

April 23, 2005 Tulsa World
A convicted Tulsa County murderer who was serving a life sentence at Cushing's Cimarron Correctional Facility made repeated stabbing motions toward an inmate who was slain in a March 22 melee at the private prison, court documents allege. Eric M. Johnson, 31, one of six inmates who are charged with first-degree murder, was identified from a videotape of the incident as fighting with the inmate who was killed, according to an affidavit by state Department of Corrections investigator Tim Coppick. "The riot only lasted a few minutes, but when the mayhem was over, Lippert had been beaten and fatally stabbed, and more than a dozen other inmates were seriously injured," Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said in a news release. "This became an issue between whites and blacks. It is gang-related," Hudson said in a telephone interview about the melee in a recreational area at the prison, which is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Friday that a number of knives, bats and horseshoes were confiscated.

April 22, 2005 Oklahoman
First-degree murder charges were filed Thursday against six inmates involved in a race-related prison riot last month that left one inmate dead and 13 others injured. Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said he anticipates the death penalty will be sought against some of the men. He said as many as 20 more men could be charged with lesser crimes, including assault and battery with a deadly weapon. As many as 65 prisoners in two gangs fought March 22 in a recreational area of the privately operated Cimarron Correctional Facility. One inmate, Adam Lippert, 32, was fatally stabbed during the riot in which inmates used aluminum bats, horseshoes and homemade weapons. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said about 40 black inmates attacked about 15 white inmates. Eric Marquel Johnson, 31, who already is serving a life sentence for murder, was identified as the man who stabbed Lippert, Brown said.

March 30, 2005 Tulsa World
The longest lockdown in the history of Cimarron Correctional Facility moved into its second week Tuesday as an investigation continued into last week's gang-related brawl that left one inmate dead and 15 injured. More than 100 prisoners have been interviewed by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, who for the past week have spent every day, including Easter, at the private prison, said OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown. The investigation is expected to take several weeks, she said. The fight is believed to have involved about 60 inmates, some using aluminum bats, horseshoes and homemade weapons, as they fought in an outdoor part of the gymnasium on March 22. "The problematic thing is the sheer magnitude of it, the number of people involved, who was culpable; identification will be an issue," Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said.

March 24, 2005 Tulsa World
An inmate who was killed in what might have been a gang-related brawl Tuesday at the Cimarron Correctional Facility was tattooed with symbols of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white-supremacist prison gang. Prison spokeswoman Linda Hurst said Wednesday that she would not comment on what sparked the fight or whether it was racially motivated while the investigation into the incident is ongoing. The slain inmate was identified as Adam Gene Lippert, 32, of Davenport, who had been in the private prison since Dec. 2 on a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in Lincoln County. About 100 prisoners were in the gymnasium when the brawl began about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said. Hurst said she did not know how many prisoners were involved in the fights, but she estimated the number at "between 40 and 60." It took about 10 minutes for the staff to bring the situation under control, she said. Brown said she did not have any information on the cause of Lippert's death or the injuries he suffered. "All I know is baseball bats were used" in the brawl, she said. No arrests had been made, Brown said. Hurst said eight inmates including Lippert, and not six as reported earlier, were taken to hospitals in Cushing, Stillwater and Tulsa, and that eight other inmates whose injuries were "not as significant" were treated in the prison's medical unit.

March 24, 2005 Oklahoman
Investigators said Wednesday at least 100 inmates may have been involved in the Cimarron Correctional Facility prison riot that left one dead and 13 others injured. One inmate is in critical condition and another is in serious condition after gang members attacked each other Tuesday with metal softball bats. An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said the organization is investigating the role of the guards in the prison. No guards were injured. "It's made me really concerned what's going on there," ACLU staff attorney Tina Izadi said. The fight at the private prison broke out between gangs at an outdoor recreation area about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, and was under control within 10 minutes, prison spokeswoman Linda Hurst said.  Hurst said the prisoners broke into the recreation room where softball bats are stored. She said she didn't know how the bats were taken because the area is supposed to be secure. Authorities are using surveillance videotape to investigate.

March 23, 2005 Oklahoman
One inmate was killed and five others were injured, one critically, when gang members, some armed with bats, rioted Tuesday afternoon at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, officials said. The fight at the private prison in Cushing broke out between two gangs using an outdoor recreation area about 1:20 p.m., and was under control quickly, prison spokeswoman Linda Hurst said. "Initial indications are that it was gang-related, with an undetermined number of inmates using recreation equipment located in the gym as weapons to assault another group of inmates," Hurst said. Softball bats were used as weapons, she said, although she did not know what was used to kill the inmate. Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said, "As far as we know, it was a bat that was used." Inmates normally get bats by checking them out at the gym, Hurst said, but she did not know whether they were checked out in this instance. The Cushing facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association.

February 4, 2005 Cushing Daily News
A visitor who is accused of carrying controlled drugs into Cushing's private prison is due in court Monday when she can ask for a preliminary hearing on the felony charge. Suzanne Putnam, 40, could receive as much as a five-year prison term and $1,000 fine if convicted of carrying contraband into the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Putnam, of Oklahoma City, is accused of bringing the drugs, Xanax and Diazepam, into the Cushing prison during a visit on Nov. 22, 2004, court records show. The drugs are used as muscle relaxers, Cushing Police Sgt. Jack Ford said Tuesday. Putnam also is also alleged to have had marijuana and drug paraphernalia in her possession on the same day. If convicted of those misdemeanors, she could receive as much as two years' incarceration and a $2,000 fine.

January 24, 2005 Cushing Daily News
A convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence in Cushing's private prison was given five more years Friday after pleading guilty to having a $100 bill in the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Possession of money by an inmate is considered contraband and carries a sentence of five to 20 years on conviction, according to the felony charge. Melvin T. Perry, 53, had a folded $100 bill between the sole and upper part of his left shoe on Aug. 30 when he was searched as he left the visiting area at Cimarron Correctional Facility, an affidavit by Cushing prison investigator Curt Booher said. His wife, Gracie Lee Perry, 58, of Spencer, allegedly admitted to authorities that she brought the money into the prison in her left front pocket and then slid it across the table to him during her visit, the affidavit said.

February 20, 2004
State agents are looking for a man they suspect of funneling drugs into a private prison in Cushing, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics said Thursday.  Agents executed a search warrant at the Forest Park home of Loy Eugene Driver, 33. Driver was not there, but agents found 2 pounds of marijuana, a pound of rock cocaine, $10,000 cash and several weapons. The drugs have a street value of about $8,300.  Mark Woodward, bureau spokesman, said Driver has been supplying drugs to Cimarron Correctional Facility.   Driver's record includes convictions for second-degree murder, eluding a police officer and possession of a controlled substance, state corrections records show.  The bureau said Driver was released from prison in 2001. Records show he is under state supervision.  Woodward said Driver was involved in a drive-by shooting that resulted in a death.  The bureau states that since Driver's release, he's been charged with two counts of drug possession, possession of a firearm after a felony conviction and eluding police.  The investigation began last fall. Cimarron Correctional Facility officials' inquiry led to the arrest of Steven Zoope Williams, 27.   Williams was a correctional officer and is accused of making a deal to bring methamphetamine to an inmate. He was charged in January with one count of trafficking illegal drugs and two counts of using a telephone to facilitate the commission of a felony.  Drug activity isn't uncommon in prisons, corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie said. Many inmates were drug users before their incarceration.  "That's why we emphasize interdiction," Massie said. "People are always trying to get drugs into the system."  (Oklahoman)

January 31, 2004
A correctional officer has been accused of making a deal to deliver methamphetamines to an inmate at the private Cushing prison where he worked.  Steven Zoope Williams, 27, of Cushing was charged Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court with one count of trafficking in illegal drugs and two counts of using a telephone to facilitate the commission of a felony.  Williams was arrested Oct. 1 after an Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control agent delivered about five ounces of methamphetamines to him, a court affidavit states.  (Oklahoman)

January 6, 2004
Prisoners at a northern Oklahoma prison were locked in their cells after they beefed about a new, low fat "heart-healthy" menu by boycotting the cafeteria, officials say.  The prisoners remained locked up over the weekend at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a privately run prison, because they objected to meals that take ground beef out of some dishes and replace it with lower fat ground turkey, said Linda Hurst, the prison's programs manager, on Tuesday.  "As a precautionary measure, we locked them down to investigate if there was anything more serious than a boycott," Hurst said.  Hurst said the situation at the prison was not volatile and prisoners returned to the cafeteria on Monday  The typical dinner menu may include turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. "The meatloaf is where the heart-healthy diet comes in," she said.  Hurst said the new menus have been used for a few months in order to reduce the fat in prisoners' diets. Some of the inmates said they would rather not eat than take another bite of turkey loaf.   The Cimarron Correctional Facility, with about 900 inmates, is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.  A spokesman for the Oklahoma prison system said it has no plans to introduce heart-healthy meals for its prisons state-wide.  (Yahoo.com)

May 6, 2003 
An inmate who was being held in a private prison in Cushing was ordered Monday to stand trial on a charge of attacking a guard at the Cimarron Corrections Facility last year.  Because of his criminal record, Jerome Shaun McCoy, 35, could receive as much as a life prison sentence if he is convicted of assault and battery on an employee of a private prison contractor, according to prosecutor Jack Bowyer.  (Tulsa World)

August 29, 2002
Two former inmates at Cushing's private prison were arraigned Wednesday on charges of assaulting two female Cimarron Correctional Facility guards in separate attacks.   Both alleged assaults occurred last winter, but charges were not filed until last week, court records show. In an incident two months earlier at the Cushing prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America, inmate Joe Lopez Jr., 29, who is serving 10 years for second-degree burglary, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for an alleged Dec. 27 razor-blade attack on corrections Officer Brenda Hadix. (Tulsa World)

August 23, 2002
STILLWATER -- A convicted sex offender who was severely beaten in Cushing's private prison does not want to testify against his alleged assailant, a convicted killer, prosecutor Tom Lee said Thursday.   The assault and battery with a dangerous weapon case was dismissed since the victim "had no desire to prosecute nor to testify" at a preliminary hearing Wednesday against the inmate accused in the attack, Lee said.   After the Aug. 17, 2001, attack in the Cushing prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America, Perosi was moved to the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, another private prison operated by CCA, corrections officials said. (Tulsa World)

August 1, 2002
A Payne County jury deliberated for nine hours before convicting an inmate of possessing marijuana at Cushing's private Cimarron Correctional Facility in November.   The jury Wednesday recommended a five-year prison term, the minimum possible, for Thomas Kye Thompson, 25, who served as his own lawyer at the three-day trial.   The jury also recommended a $2 fine for Thompson for possession of drug paraphernalia, a piece of paper that allegedly contained a small amount of marijuana. (Oklahoman)

May 11, 2002
A former youth leader at the River of Life Church north of Perkins was given 10 concurrent 20-year prison terms Friday for repeatedly sexually abusing two girls who attended the church.   Rex Jason Sumner, 31, of Perkins, who was the church's youth leader for about a year until his arrest in December, had pleaded guilty to all 10 sexual abuse counts before District Judge Donald Worthington. River of Life Church members had strongly supported Sumner a year ago when he received seven years' probation from Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. for marijuana delivery in Payne County.   In court Friday, Worthington revoked that probation and handed Sumner a concurrent seven-year prison term for smuggling a pound of marijuana into Cushing's private prison while he worked there as a corrections officer two years ago. (Tulsa World)  

David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Formerly CCA
September 20, 2010 Tulsa World
Since it took over the operation of the Tulsa Jail on July 1, 2005, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office has consistently spent less than it was appropriated despite rising inmate counts, soaring increases in the cost of employee benefits and often modest increases in sales tax collections, records indicate. The Sheriff's Office also has been able to make good on one important promise made by Undersheriff Brian Edwards in March 2005 when he presented the sheriff's bid to operate the jail to the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority - that the sheriff would bring in millions of dollars through grants and new contracts to house inmates. Edwards said last week, "I think it's been a collaborative effort by everyone involved to make sure we operated the jail within the revenue stream that's available and try to save as much money wherever and whenever we can, and I think we have done that." Balancing the jail's books has never been simple because of the many variables in the equation. Inmate counts change daily. Sales tax collections, which provide most of the funding for the jail, change monthly. And the cost of salaries and benefits more often than not increases from year to year. Throw in grants and contracts that come and go, and the math is never easy. The bid Edwards presented to the authority called for the sheriff to spend $19.7 million to operate the jail in fiscal year 2006. The bid was nearly $2 million less than that offered by Corrections Corporation of America, the private business that had run the jail since it was opened in 1999. The Sheriff's Office ended up spending just $18.7 million to operate the jail that year, but costs have increased steadily since. In fiscal year 2010, it cost $23.1 million to operate the jail - a 23 percent increase from 2006 but a decrease from the peak expenditure of $25.8 million in 2008. The jail appropriation for the 2011 fiscal year totals $26.5 million, which would represent a 41 percent increase from 2006. Some of the increase is due to the rising cost of utilities, food and medical care. But the overwhelming factor has been the increase in benefits and salaries, in that order.

November 10, 2007 AP
A new study shows that the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office is operating the county's jail for millions of dollars less than its private-sector predecessor would have. The study by Tulsa County Fiscal Officer Jim Smith found it would have cost the Criminal Justice Authority a total of $12 million more in fiscal years 2006 and 2007 if Corrections Corporation of American were still under contract to operate the jail. Smith came up with the number by comparing CCA's daily cost per inmate for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 with comparable Sheriff's Office numbers for fiscal years 2006 and 2007. CCA's average cost per inmate was $51.34. The sheriff's average cost was $39.68.

July 1, 2005 Tulsa World
Tulsa County sheriff's officials made history overnight as the privately operated David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center returned to public hands. About 40 deputies and more than 55 volunteers came out to support Sheriff Stanley Glanz's takeover of the Tulsa Jail operation. The sheriff's team arrived by bus at the jail around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. They entered the ground-floor training rooms, one of which was cluttered with boxes of new khaki jail uniforms, and quickly broke into teams of three to conduct face-to-face inmate counts, confirmed by jail mug shots, around 8 p.m. All 1,301 inmates were accounted for, officials said. Officials from Corrections Corporation of America, which has operated the lockup for the past six years, conducted another count at 11 p.m. before turning over the keys at midnight. While the jail was under CCA's control, inmates have had their share of complaints about conditions there. Greg Shaffer, 31, who was released from jail late Thursday after an eight-day stay on speeding and driver's license-related allegations, said he had also been in the Tulsa Jail when it was occupied by the Sheriff's Office in the past. "I'm so glad Tulsa County's taking over" the jail again, he said. "The sheriff ran it good -- way better." Unlike the official word that the inmates had been locked down for two days prior to the transition, Shaffer said they had been locked in their cells for four days without showers. A sheriff's team member said two inmates claimed to have been locked in their cell for four days because no one could open the cell door. One man who was released from jail Thursday claimed that he had been issued only one jumpsuit for his entire two-month stay and that he went without shoes for a month. He said the washer in the housing pod was broken and that inmates were hand-washing their uniforms in their sinks. He did not wish to be identified.

July 1, 2005
More than $250,000 worth of repairs need to be made to the Tulsa Jail's security system, according to a review that found more than 270 broken intercoms and other equipment damaged or missing. The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office requested the site assessment by Black Creek Integrated Systems Corp., the company that installed the jail's security system. In a report obtained by the Tulsa World, the company lists two pages of damaged or missing equipment at the jail, which has been operated by Corrections Corporation of America since it opened in 1999. "The overall system is functionally intact and continues to perform as it was designed and installed. There are, however, major problems with the system that are a direct result of failure to replace failed parts in a timely manner," states the report by Jay Tumlin, service manager for Black Creek, based in Alabama. "For example, it is highly unlikely that the facility experienced the failure of 272 intercom stations at the short timeframe, which is indicative of the lack of parts support that has been provided to this vital system." The company reviewed the jail's security system June 13-17 and provided its report this week to Sheriff Stanley Glanz. It concludes that the county would need to spend at least $259,000 on parts and labor to make the repairs or replace the missing equipment. The report also lists problems including all but one gooseneck microphone removed from the jail pods, several nurse call buttons stuck in the on position, six closed-circuit television monitors missing, eight jail pod control stations with faulty touch screens and one pod control station computer missing. The review also found 11 broken VCRs, six cameras that need repair, a broken motion detector and five disconnected card readers. Water had damaged equipment in several areas of the facility, the report states. CCA's contract to operate the jail states that the company shall maintain the facility "in accordance with the maintenance system provided by the authority." It states equipment shall be in "good repair and good working order at all times" and maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Ike Newton, president of Black Creek, said based on the site visit, the jail's security system has not been maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Newton said the broken equipment affects employees' ability to communicate with each other and see what is happening in the jail. He said if an employee or inmate were injured at the jail and decided to sue, "one of the first things they are going to point to is the condition of the security system." The contract requires CCA to make repairs at its expense. It states replacement parts should meet or exceed the original parts. CCA was supposed to pay for repairs using a $300,000 escrow account, the contract states. The report cites several cases in which original equipment was replaced with equipment of lower quality, including a camera replaced with one that had no zoom capability and 15-inch computer monitors that replaced 21-inch monitors. Chief Sheriff's Deputy George Haralson said Glanz requested the review because "we were concerned that the system had not been maintained properly over the last five years." "We did not want to take over a facility July 1 and have any surprises," Haralson said. Marvin Branham, a spokesman for CCA, said he had not seen Black Creek's report and that the company had not been asked to pay for repairs listed in the report. "I know that the system's operating properly. There are some intercoms that actually have been ordered that will be installed into the facility." Branham said CCA "has met all the requirements of the contract." He said he is unsure if the escrow account contains $300,000 because "it works as a constantly revolving drawdown" for repairs. Haralson said the sheriff's office is not required to pay for the repairs and should not have to. Paul Wilkening, chief deputy for the Tulsa County Commissioners, said the county has a list of 400 items that must be repaired or replaced at the jail. He said some of the items on the Black Creek list are on that list. After repairs are made, he said the authority will review Black Creek's letter to determine what items still need repaired or replaced. "I would suspect that we will ask CCA to pay for things that aren't working," Wilkening said.  

July 1, 2005 News OK
TULSA - It probably didn't take Tulsa County jail inmates long to know a new -- but familiar -- sheriff was in town. Sheriff Stanley Glanz said he planned to conduct a shakedown search shortly after regaining control of the jail, which was scheduled to happen at midnight Thursday. Glanz has waited six years for his department to regain control of the jail. The shakedown, conducted by 100 deputies, reserve deputies and jail staff, is an effort to improve safety and efficiency at the jail. "I had a lot of patience," he said. "I learned that a jail is a law enforcement function and it needs to be operated by government and not private companies. Of course, I've been saying that for 10 years, but it's been reinforced to me." Criminal Justice Trust Authority members voted 7-0 to privatize after reading reports that Corrections Corporation of America could save taxpayers as much as $10 million in five years. But the trust authority in March voted, 4-3, to give the jail back to Glanz.

May 7, 2005 Tulsa World
A Tulsa Jail corrections officer was fired Thursday after he was arrested in the armed robbery of a woman in a mall parking lot. Charles Courtney Wilson, 19, was arrested about 1:30 p.m. Thursday on an armed robbery complaint and booked into the the jail about 5 p.m., jail records show. Chris Howard, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the jail, confirmed that Wilson was an officer there. He was fired after CCA officials learned of his felony arrest. The robbery took place about 1:15 p.m. in a parking lot outside Woodland Hills Mall at 71st Street and Memorial Drive, Sgt. Kim Presley said. A woman told police that she had just returned to her car, which was parked on the south side of the mall, when a man appeared "out of nowhere." He pointed a gun at her and told her to get out of her car. She got out, and he grabbed her purse, Presley said. The man then ran to a car where a getaway driver was waiting. Witnesses described the getaway car to police, and officers saw the vehicle a short time later. The car's two occupants were arrested in the 7400 block of East 29th Place, Presley said. The man who is the suspected driver, Bernard Ezechukwu, was arrested on complaints of armed robbery, eluding and traffic-related complaints.

May 6, 2005 KOTV
Good Samaritans helped Tulsa Police arrest two men stealing a woman's purse at gunpoint. One of the suspects works at the Tulsa County jail. Police say 19-year-old Charles Wilson ran up to the victim's car at Woodland Hills Mall, pointed a gun at her, and reached across her to grab her purse out of the passenger's seat. Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs the jail, tells the News on 6, Wilson is a corrections officer.

April 23, 2005 Tulsa World
Outside oversight during the Tulsa Jail's management transition is likely, county leaders say. Officials are still pondering what kind of oversight they will put in place once the sheriff assumes operation of the Tulsa Jail on July 1. Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority Chairman and County Commissioner Bob Dick said most have agreed that the sheriff's operation of the jail will be a big change and that some form of outside oversight should be maintained for a period of time.
Sheriff Stanley Glanz plans to generate a monthly report internally and said he doesn't mind oversight. Jail transition: About 270 applications for jail staff positions have been received so far. Some 230 to 240 of those have come from existing CCA employees, Chief Deputy Tim Albin said. The sheriff plans a staff of 304. Ninety-seven applicants have taken a standardized test, with more than 95 percent passing. "They've got some really good people working over there, and that's why we're trying real hard to latch on to that work force," he said.

March  30, 2005 Tulsa World
A former Tulsa Jail supervisor faces a three-year prison sentence upon being convicted Tuesday of raping a female inmate there. Tulsa County jurors found Eugene Pendleton, 48, guilty of second-degree rape. Pendleton was jailed after the verdict, ending a six-day trial in District Judge Tom Thornbrugh's court. Jurors also imposed a $3,000 fine. Pendleton managed an addiction treatment unit at the jail. His accuser, now 29, testified that she participated in a jail counseling program to address her drug problem. Jurors heard testimony that the woman -- who is no longer an inmate -- has said Pendleton had sex with her six or seven times between Christmas 2001 and May 2002. Pendleton denied the accusation. The rape charge did not require proof of force. It is illegal for a person in a "position of authority" to engage in sexual contact with an inmate, Assistant District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said.

March 30, 2005 Tulsa World
Police have ruled that an inmate's death at the Tulsa Jail on Monday is consistent with an intentional hanging. Corrections Corporation of America's spokesman Chris Howard said only that Felipe Gonzalez, 46, was pronounced dead at 3:15 p.m. The jail has had at least 18 inmate deaths since August 1999. At least five were suicides.

March 29, 2005 AP
Tulsa police are investigating the apparent suicide of an inmate at the Tulsa Jail. The man's name and how he died have not been released. EMSA paramedics were called to the jail about 3:00 yesterday afternoon and say when they arrived they were told the patient was dead from a traumatic injury. The jail is run by Corrections Corporation of America and spokesman Chris Howard says he can't release information about the death.

March 19, 2005 Tulsa World
All agreed it was a tough decision to make, but in the end the seven-member Criminal Justice Authority elected to turn the Tulsa Jail operation back over to the sheriff in a 4-3 vote Friday. Undersheriff Brian Edwards said he thought the sheriff's public accountability, local presence and community involvement were the key factors in the selection. "I think that we presented a solid plan," Edwards said. "I think the trust authority's going to give us an opportunity to prove ourselves. That's just what we intend to do." The Tulsa Jail has been under the management of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America since August 1999. CCA's contract with the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority expires June 30, but officials are hoping the company will agree to stay an additional 180 days to allow the sheriff's transition team six months to prepare for the takeover. The authority decided to seek new proposals for running the jail after it struggled with a $2.9 million deficit this budget year. Sheriff Stanley Glanz, CCA, the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) of Boca Raton, Fla., and Correctional Services Corp. of Sarasota, Fla., responded with bids. The authority discussed the issue for about an hour Friday morning before a standing-room-only crowd of largely CCA employees before deciding it would give the sheriff as many as three years to see how well he performs. Commissioner Randi Miller made the motion in favor of the Sheriff's Office early in the discussion, and it was seconded by Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune, who made the most arguments in favor of Glanz. Commissioner Bob Dick said he came to the meeting prepared to vote for the GEO Group, but he ended up being the deciding vote in favor of the sheriff. Dick was part of a unanimous vote in 1997 to turn over the jail operation to CCA after its bid came in $2 million cheaper than the sheriff's. This time the sheriff was about $2 million cheaper than CCA.

March 18, 2005 KOTV
The Tulsa County jail's new operator is the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. The jail is currently operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Last month, the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority ordered the re-bidding. CCA and the sheriff's office was two of four bidders who submitted bids. During a meeting Friday morning, the authority voted 4 to 3 in favor of returning the operation of the jail to the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

February 6, 2005 Tulsa World
Tulsa County's sheriff and a Florida counterpart have differing viewpoints on public vs. privately run. Faced with rising costs at privately operated facilities, both Tulsa County and Hernando County, Fla., are trying to determine how their jails can be run for less money. But while Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz thinks he can run a jail cheaper than Corrections Corporation of America, Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent has no interest in running a jail and says he can't do it for less.
Times have changed since sheriffs operated jails with budgets based on the number of prisoners they held, Nugent said. Glanz said the reason he is in the running to operate the jail again is because he believes his office can help the community. The sheriff never believed the Criminal Justice Authority should have turned over the operation to a private operator in 1999, when Tulsa's new jail opened. He blamed that decision on politics and fought it in court, but lost. "They have a company and they run a business for profit, where I'm a law enforcement official and I would run the facility in the best interest of the law enforcement community," Glanz said. Collin County (Texas) Sheriff Terry Box said that running a jail is about more than who has the lowest bid. Box's office operates the county jail in McKinney, which Glanz's office has used as a model for the direct supervision style of management used at the Tulsa Jail. "I would never want to have a private firm have someone behind bars for a county operation. Because in a county jail, there's a lot of innocent people in jail. It's kind of odd to me to give that kind of constitutional authority over to a private firm," Box said. In Tulsa County, the jail tab paid to CCA has increased to $22.1 million in 2004 from $15.6 million in 2001. Glanz submitted a proposal to run the jail in December that was at least $2 million less than what CCA is being paid, sparking a movement to seek formal proposals from potential jail operators.

January 25, 2005 Tulsa World
Efforts to reduce the jail budget have mainly focused on CCA's contract to operate the Tulsa Jail. But Corrections Corporation of America officials question why other jail-related costs funded by the quarter-penny sales tax are not part of the discussion along with some of the ideas they have suggested to help reduce costs and boost revenues. "I can understand their point of view," said County Commissioner Bob Dick, chairman of the county's Criminal Justice Authority. "We're looking at every way possible, but the obvious big dollars are in the contract." In the five years since CCA first won the jail contract, its per-inmate-day fee has risen 32 percent, while the total amount it has been paid has gone up 42 percent in four years. CCA was paid $15.6 million in its first full year of operations in 2000-01, and it received $22.1 million in 2003-04. The average daily jail population has gone up from 1,135 inmates in 2000 to 1,250 inmates in 2004. The Criminal Justice Authority is taking bids for a jail operator. The sheriff, CCA and an unknown number of private operators are expected to vie for the contract.
Glanz maintains he can operate a better jail for less money because he doesn't have to earn a profit.

January 9, 2005 Tulsa World
At least 17 Tulsa Jail inmates have died since Corrections Corporation of America took over operations, four times the number who died in the jail the previous five years, a review by the Tulsa World has found. The deaths include three suicides in the jail's medical unit. Another inmate who died from a brain aneurysm displayed signs of a head injury for weeks following assaults in the jail, but prison medical staff claimed his problems were "all in his head," records show. Sheriff Stanley Glanz said private companies have an incentive to keep medical costs low, which can lead to poor care for inmates. Glanz has made a proposal to take over operations of the jail when CCA's current contract expires in June. The county's Criminal Justice Authority is considering whether to extend the contract and has requested proposals from Glanz and other private operators.  The Tulsa World reviewed all deaths in the jail since Jan. 1, 2000, the first full year that the Nashville-based company operated Tulsa's new 1,440-bed jail.
During those five years, at least 17 people died in the jail or at medical facilities following illnesses or injuries at the jail. From 1995 through 1999, there were four deaths in the jail operated by the sheriff. Records show several Tulsa Jail inmates who died were suffering from cancer or other serious ailments and those deaths were likely little surprise to authorities. But even in those cases, records show an apparent indifference to inmates' medical problems among some CCA employees. Sondria Allen was jailed July 26, 2004, on larceny and other complaints and initially housed in the jail's medical unit. Three days later, on July 29, Allen was transferred out of the medical unit to a segregation unit. The officer states that the other officers told him Allen "was very dramatic and would probably try faking something. I was told that she was in medical on suicide watch at one point and if she left medical she would hurt herself." Allen was found unresponsive in her cell about four hours later. Other cases drew sharp criticism from jail inspectors. Jail staff failed to notice or document that inmate Merlin Lee Foster had not eaten for four days before his death on June 18, 2000, from a bowel infarction. "It is apparent in the medical file that Foster complained about his stomach hurting since May 16," states a report by jail inspector Loyd Bickel. "It is also apparent that prescribed treatment was not working." Bickel notes that medical staff were not responding to requests for treatment within the required 48 hours and medical files were in disarray. "I find it to be an enormous red flag of the inadequacy in rendering treatment as well as adequate charting of the inmate's condition that it is verified that his medical file was lost for a period of five days," his report states. Foster, 62, died at a hospital following surgery. His widow, Peggy Sue Foster, sued and a jury found in favor of CCA and other defendants. CCA's press release following the suicide of inmate Cory Adam Morris stated: "Although a loss of life did occur, CCA employees followed policies and procedures." In fact, the state jail inspector cited the company with numerous lapses in Morris' hanging death. Morris, 20, was found hanging in a cell from a sheet tied to his bed at 4:50 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2000. The company's initial statement said Morris was seen "acting normally" during a routine check at 4:25 p.m. According to an investigation by the Jail Inspection Division, Morris had apparently been dead for awhile before anyone noticed. "Hourly prisoner checks were not conducted or documented and shift change counts were not conducted or documented according to the state standards." The report notes that an inmate was "allowed to conduct security checks for the officer on duty and was allowed to have supervision over other inmates. CCA later reported that its press release was inaccurate and that pod officers had not actually seen Morris during the last check. Two correctional officers were fired. While Morris was held in the general population, three suicides have occurred in the jail's medical unit, records show. Among the jail's deaths from natural causes is a case in which CCA was cited for failing to seek appropriate medical attention for an inmate who was assaulted. For weeks after he was assaulted by inmates in the jail on Nov. 25, 2000, inmate Leonia Sanchez Arriaga displayed signs of a head injury. A jail inspector's report states that while he was in the medical unit, Arriaga complained of headaches, buzzing in his ears and was "crawling around on all 4s and climbing on top of the sinks and toilet within the facility. He is also reported as confused and to have an unsteady gait." Arriaga was taken to a hospital, where he reportedly refused treatment, and was returned to the jail's general population. The inmate attacked Arriaga, striking him numerous times in the head, the report states. Arriaga, 31, continued to display signs of a head injury and was transferred to the medical unit. On Dec. 8, records state he was confused, disoriented and "crawling on all fours." Jail staff, however, did not request that Arriaga be examined at a hospital but instead sent him to court for a hearing in his DUI case. Arriaga attended his court appointment in a wheelchair and "became incontinent," the jail inspector's report states. He was returned to the jail and transported to a hospital later that evening. Arriaga died at the hospital before surgery could be performed. Hospital tests showed Arriaga died Dec. 13, 2000, from a ruptured brain aneurysm and his body was returned to family in Mexico. The medical examiner ruled his death was due to natural causes. On the day following Arriaga's death, Masek, the contract monitor at the jail, said he would investigate the matter. He said at the time that Prison Health Services, the private company which CCA contracted with to provide medical care in the jail, "went to great lengths to take care of this guy." In its investigation, the jail inspector's office cited CCA with numerous failures, including failing to give Arriaga appropriate medical care, delaying transportation to a hospital, failure to accurately document the assaults and failure to contact the jail inspector's office until four days after his death. In April 2001, CCA ended its contract with Prison Health Services. At the time, CCA Director of Communications Steve Owen said the move "enables us to be more responsive to our customers." But according to a memo dated May 31, 2001, the company was also working hard to control medical costs. The memo on file at the state Jail Inspection Division states that a CCA nurse called that day to report that "med help must leave when they've put in 40 hours and stay gone." The nurse told the jail inspector's office she stayed one hour overtime to finish paperwork for the next shift "and was called at home and told 'she'd better watch out,' " states the memo to state Jail Inspector Don Garrison. "She has been a nurse for 33 years and states she has no desire to throw mud at her employer (CCA). However, proper medical care is not being administered. When their 40 hours are up, that's it," the memo states.

January 7, 2005 Tulsa World
Current access to the inmates is criticized, but Sheriff Glanz says he would improve conditions. Some Tulsa ministers say they would like to see a more "pastor-friendly" environment at the Tulsa Jail and believe that would happen if the sheriff were back in charge. The Rev. Melvin L. Bailey of Shiloh Baptist Church said personal contact with inmates is difficult when conversations must occur through glass and there is a fear of being overheard. "We'd like to be able to hold the hand of an inmate," he said. Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz said he would allow ministers free access, as he did before politics took the responsibility for the jail away from him. The news media was invited to a Thursday gathering of about two dozen pastors and members of the Sheriff's Office at St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church. Glanz told the group that his father was a minister, "so I know what you guys do." St. Andrew's pastor, the Rev. Bertrand Bailey, said ministers in his area are not happy with the access that Corrections Corporation of America allows them to inmates. He said he hopes ministers would try to influence a decision to return the jail operation to the sheriff. The financially troubled Criminal Justice Authority, which governs the jail operation, is seeking proposals to run the jail from the sheriff and as many as seven private operators, including CCA, which has held the jail contract since August 1999.

January 2, 2005 AP
The number of potential private jail operators has more than tripled since officials shopped for someone to run the Tulsa Jail six years ago. In 1998, the choice of private operators was between Corrections Corporation of America, which won the contract, and Wackenhut Corp., now known as the GEO Group. Now the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and as many as seven private companies could be submitting proposals to run the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center. CCA's contract expires at the end of June, and another deficit of about $5 million is projected for the next fiscal year. The Tulsa County sheriff enters the ring again as a potential jail operator after a five-year hiatus. Sheriff Stanley Glanz launched a court battle several years ago against the creation of the Criminal Justice Authority and its decision to turn the jail operation over to CCA. He lost that fight but has maintained that a jail is a sheriff's responsibility and should not be operated by a private company out to make a profit.

December 19, 2004 Tulsa World
The sheriff's department estimates its plan will save $2 million over current jail operator CCA. The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office believes it can operate the Tulsa Jail for less money than Corrections Corporation of America because of the management style it would implement. Interim Undersheriff George Haralson said that the sheriff's office would operate the jail as a "direct supervision" facility, which requires fewer employees because only one detention officer is assigned to supervise inmates in each housing pod. Haralson has also touted the sheriff's proposal because it is based on a fixed price of $19.2 million, while there is no ceiling on what CCA can be paid each year because its payment is based on jail population. The Tennessee-based company's compensation rate is based on a per-inmate, per-day rate that is estimated to cost about $23 million this year. The Criminal Justice Authority requested the sheriff's proposal so that a cost comparison could be conducted. Those results, in part, prompted the authority to decide it will take new bids on the jail contract. An operator is expected to be selected by the end of March. CCA is in its final year of a three-year contract, with two one-year renewal options.
Haralson told the authority that the sheriff has agreed to pay for any startup costs out of his budget or cash fee accounts if he is chosen to run the jail.

December 17, 2004 Tulsa World
Tulsa County may have to rely more heavily on its cash funds and other tax streams to free up property tax dollars for the Criminal Justice Authority's lagging jail budget. The Criminal Justice Authority meets Friday to consider its budget and contract for jail operations. The Budget Board also meets Friday to take action on an expected request from the Criminal Justice Authority to help cover its projected $2.9 million budget deficit. Sheriff Stanley Glanz said he hasn't spent any of his cash funds this year in case the jail operation is returned to him. The sheriff has been asked to submit a cost proposal to run the jail so it can be compared to Corrections Corporation of America, the private operator at the jail since 1999.

December 14, 2004 Tulsa World
The jail trust authority discussed several solutions that may solve its short-term financial troubles by seeking assistance from Tulsa County authorities and the county Budget Board. The county's fiscal officer, Jim Smith, told the Criminal Justice Authority during a special meeting Monday that the $3.7 million deficit has been revised to $2.9 million. In addition, the sheriff has been asked to submit a cost proposal to run the jail. A report, prepared by commissioners' chief deputy Paul Wilkening, is supposed to be released this week that will compare the sheriff's costs to the Corrections Corporation of America, the private operator that runs the jail. Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune said the comparison needs to be done because CCA's current contract is a large component of the deficit. LaFortune was the only Criminal Justice Authority member who voted against the CCA contract two years ago. DOC officials have previously recommended that the Criminal Justice Authority look to other jurisdictions who could house state inmates cheaper than CCA, but the contract with CCA prevents it from doing that.

December 12, 2004 Tulsa World
Corrections Corporation of America could reduce its $48.60 per inmate daily compensation rate at the Tulsa Jail by nearly $12 if it no longer provided booking, transportation, holding and medical services. But the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority would have to look to other entities to provide those services more cheaply than CCA before it could see any savings. Records show that the Nashville, Tenn.-based company has outlined other potential cost reductions, including the removal of on-site monitoring of its operation by Criminal Justice Authority employees.
The Criminal Justice Authority is facing a projected $3.7 million budget shortfall, but Chairman Randi Miller has said hiring other entities to perform some jail functions just seems like cost-shifting. A report is submitted to the authority each month that addresses staffing levels, maintenance, escapes/wrongful releases, inmate deaths and medical services. But an inmate release time survey is no longer included in Contract Monitor Joe Masek's monthly report to the authority. "Questions are being raised again that it's taking a long time to get out of jail, so I feel it's my duty," Masek said last month following a complaint from an inmate's father. Committee member Robert Breuning has complained that the county doesn't allow the committee to perform its role as a watch dog so members have lost interest. He asked the Criminal Justice Authority in March to appoint new members because the 14-member committee was down to seven members.

December 10, 2004 Tulsa World
Tulsa County bears no liability for the jail authority's projected $3.7 million budget deficit, but it could voluntarily transfer general funds to save the authority from indebtedness, according to a district attorney's opinion.
The county's Budget Board in the past has approved transferring general funds to the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, records show. Transfers from the authority to the general fund have also occurred. County officials have been hesitant to say what should be done about the Criminal Justice Authority's budget, which has a cash balance that has dwindled to $6,097 from $994,299 as jail costs continue to outpace incoming revenues. County employees could be affected by a cut or reduction in benefits. Property owners could also be affected if the deficit goes unchecked and the Criminal Justice Authority is sued for unpaid bills by jail operator Corrections Corporation of America or other entities.

December 9, 2004 Tulsa World
The proposal is being hampered by the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority's financial troubles. Corrections Corporation of America officials have confirmed that they are marketing available beds at the Tulsa Jail to the Kansas Department of Corrections. However, the effort to house out-of-state prisoners is being hampered by the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority's financial troubles, which have the Nashville, Tenn., company wondering whether it will be in Tulsa after its contract to run the jail expires in June.
"We're holding back on who we're going after," said Jennifer Taylor, CCA's senior director of business development. "It's not good to be uprooted," which would happen to potential Kansas inmates if CCA's contract with the Criminal Justice Authority to run the jail is not renewed or if the company leaves because the authority can't pay its debt. Criminal Justice Authority Chairman Randi Miller has been in talks with CCA in an effort to lower jail costs, but she said she didn't know anything about the proposal to house Kansas inmates. She said CCA has mentioned the idea several times but the authority has had no discussions on it.

December 5, 2004 Tulsa World
Tulsa County taxpayers are paying 30 percent more to run the Tulsa Jail than the average amount that other jurisdictions pay Corrections Corporation of America at facilities it manages across the nation. In its latest financial report to investors, records show the Tennessee-based company's daily revenue per inmate averages $37.52 among the 26 facilities it manages but does not own.
Locally, taxpayers are paying CCA $48.60 per inmate daily at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, owned by the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority. Oklahoma County's per diem rate has been $35 a day for the past three years, according to the sheriff's office, which operates the jail. Dick said CCA indicated to him that it makes a profit of about $1 million a year in Tulsa in its current contract. Based on the $22,179,438 CCA was paid in 2003-04 that would be about a 5 percent profit. In the five years since CCA first won the jail contract, its fee has risen 32 percent, while the total amount it has been paid has gone up 42 percent in four years. Ken Kopczynski, who operates a Florida-based watchdog group called the Private Corrections Institute, said Tulsa's jail problems are not unique. "You are basically getting the same issues everywhere. The prices are escalating. They (CCA) just walked away from a contract in Nevada because they low-balled it, and they came back begging for more money, particularly for medical costs." Kopczynski said private prison operators "say they can do it better and cheaper, but . . . they have to provide a profit to their shareholders. On top of that, they have to contribute thousands of dollars to politicians." In Florida, state law requires that use of private prisons results in a 7 percent cost savings. CCA runs six private correctional facilities in that state: three jails and three prisons. A review by the Florida Legislature found that only one in five private prisons operated by CCA and another company met the requirement.

December 2, 2004 Tulsa World
Four members of the county Budget Board have called for a special meeting Friday to discuss the use of general funds to compensate for the jail board's projected $3.7 million deficit. But Commissioners Randi Miller and Wilbert Collins say there may be no alternative. Miller has mentioned the possibility of reducing the county's contribution to certain employee benefit plans in an effort to help pay for the jail. She has also asked the sheriff to submit a proposal on running the jail in an effort to see if the it could be operated for less money. A contract with jail operator Corrections Corporation of America is up for renewal in July. In the five years since CCA first won the jail contract, its fee has risen 32 percent.

November 16, 2004 Tulsa World
Tulsa County's budget and jail boards scheduled and then canceled back-to-back Tuesday meetings to act on a critical state audit and deal with a $3.7 million hole in the county's jail budget. Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller said the meetings were called off because negotiations with Corrections Corporation of America -- the private contractor that operates the county's jail -- aren't finished. The county wants to reduce CCA's $48.50 per-inmate, per-day compensation rate. In the five years since CCA first won the jail contract, its fee has risen 32 percent.

October 30, 2004 Tulsa World
Two men wanted to ask the Criminal Justice Authority about jail procedures and funding. Al Nichols and Clifton Sartin say they would like to speak at a Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority meeting but that the board doesn't allow public comment. Asked why authority meetings don't have a public comment section, County Commissioner Bob Dick replied: "Why should there be? To give someone a platform to rant and rave to me isn't good policy." Both men attended Friday's authority meeting but didn't speak.
Nichols sent a letter to the authority Oct. 13, asking to address the board regarding his son's having been held in the Tulsa Jail for eight hours despite efforts to pay his bail. But Nichols said his concerns can be answered only by the authority because it has oversight of the jail, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. "There are certain things CCA can't correct," he said. Sartin said he wants an explanation for the jail board's troubled finances. "Why are they going bankrupt, and how will they pay for the jail if it does?" he asked.

October 28, 2004 Tulsa World
A consultant's draft report commissioned by the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority suggests no specific solutions on how the governing body should combat a projected $6 million deficit in the jail budget, officials say.
County Commissioner and authority Chairwoman Randi Miller said the draft report is too vague and doesn't really identify any specific cost savings. Michael A. O'Toole & Associates of Denver was paid $20,000 for an efficiency analysis of the jail, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. But Sheriff Stanley Glanz, who is nursing a broken leg after a lawn-mowing accident, said he has reviewed the report. "One of my concerns is the county's broke," he said. "I cut my budget 20 percent from what I requested. The county does not have the money to pick up funding of the jail." In the five years since CCA was given the jail contract, its fee has gone up 32 percent -- to $48.60 from $36.76 per inmate per day.

October 27, 2004 Oklahoman
Faced with an anticipated budget shortfall, the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority will consider new staffing recommendations for the county jail Friday. The authority pays Corrections Corporation of America on a per-inmate basis and expects the bill for this fiscal year to be $23 million. But based on experience in past years, the authority estimates a sales tax dedicated to the jail's operations will raise only $18 million during the fiscal year, which began July 1. That is why the authority hired a consultant to review the operation and its staffing levels. The authority would like to renegotiate the contract that allows Corrections Corporation of America to increase its fees. On July 1, for example, the corporation's charges for each prisoner went up from $47.18 a day to $48.60 a day. Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, who is not a member of the authority, has reviewed the report, he said Tuesday. Glanz also wouldn't discuss specifics, but maintains that his department could run the jail for the same amount of money or less.

September 14, 2004 Tulsa World
The mother of an inmate who was found hanging by a ligature in his Tulsa Jail medical cell has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Corrections Corporation of America, the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority and the city of Tulsa. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Darla Lamb, alleges that authorities had reason to know that Scott Ray Dickens, 36, was suicidal but failed to monitor him properly.

September 2, 2004
A man who served only about 2 1/2 years of a 16-year state court prison sentence for college grade-altering offenses was arrested Wednesday after a paperwork problem allowed him to be free for weeks before serving a consecutive federal sentence.  After federal officials learned of his early release, Tarig Al-Taweel, 35, was arrested Wednesday afternoon by U.S. marshals at a residence where he had been staying in the 1400 block of East 38th Place, Deputy U.S. Marshal Rick Holden said.  Holden said Al-Taweel was arrested based on a one-year prison sentence U.S. District Judge James Payne imposed last September.  He was ordered to serve time in a federal prison for taking an English proficiency test for another foreign student and for mailing a threat to his former wife.  Payne said then that he was ordering the one-year term to run consecutively to the 16-year state sentence because a concurrent term would be the sort of "leniency" he does not support.  Tulsa County jurors convicted Al-Taweel in November 2002 of eight felonies linked to accusations that grades were changed for Middle Eastern students at Tulsa Community College.  Chris Howard, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Tulsa Jail, said Al-Taweel was in the jail from Nov. 5, 2001, until Oct. 7, 2003, when he was transferred to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.  Temporarily lost in the shuffle was the one-year prison sentence Payne had imposed.  Holden said Wednesday that a U.S. Marshals Service detainer -- as well as documents temporarily relinquishing federal custody of Al-Taweel -- were provided to Tulsa Jail officials Nov. 18.  That was a few weeks after Payne had issued a formal written order setting out the terms he imposed at the Sept. 26 sentencing hearing.  CCA's Howard said Wednesday evening that Al-Taweel was released into Department of Corrections custody more than a month prematurely last fall.  He said that meant that certain paperwork -- such as the Marshals Service detainer -- did not follow Al-Taweel into the state system.  Both Moore and Corrections Department Assistant District Supervisor Johnny Blevins said Wednesday that they did not see any reference to the Marshals Service detainer in Al-Taweel's DOC file.  Howard said the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office -- not CCA -- compiles the list of inmates who are supposed to be taken from the Tulsa Jail to state prison facilities.  "Ordinarily inmates are not to be moved to a DOC facility while they are still in our custody," Holden said Wednesday.  He said the Marshals Service is still in the "very early stages" of determining exactly how this happened.  (Tulsa World)

August 28, 2004
A Colorado-based consulting firm has been selected to perform an efficiency analysis of the Tulsa County criminal justice system.  Michael A. O'Toole & Associates of Denver was selected Friday from among five firms that expressed an interest to the county Criminal Justice Authority. The cost for the study will be confirmed once a contract is successfully negotiated.  Corrections Corporation of America operates the Tulsa Jail, and its fee has gone up in the five years it has held the contract by 32 percent -- to $48.60 from $36.76 per inmate per day.  Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller said O'Toole's firm definitely needs to study CCA's compensation rate. Miller said officials might have to make severe cuts to the county's general fund to counter a projected $3 million to $5 million deficit in the criminal justice budget.  (Tulsa World)

August 7, 2004
Five firms have expressed an interest in conducting an efficiency analysis of Tulsa County's criminal justice system.  Officials are looking for ways to cut costs amid a projected $3 million to $5 million deficit in the operating budget for the jail and other criminal justice-related divisions.  The jail has been operated by Corrections Corporation of America since it opened in 1999. CCA's fee has gone up 32 percent -- to $48.60 from $36.76 per inmate per day -- in the five years since it has had the jail contract.  (Tulsa World)

August 6, 2004
A Corrections Corporation of America employee was arrested Wednesday night in the staff parking lot of the Tulsa Jail after a gun and a bag of marijuana were discovered in his vehicle.  Dustin Holley, 22, resigned from his job as a corrections officer and was jailed on a misdemeanor complaint of marijuana possession. He was released early Thursday.  Chris Howard, spokesman for CCA, which operates the Tulsa Jail, said employees who were visually searching vehicles in the employee parking area noticed what appeared to be a gun under the seat of Holley's vehicle. Holley allowed them to search his vehicle, where they allegedly found a small bag of marijuana.  (Tulsa World)

July 25, 2004
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority hopes to hire a consultant within the next month to audit the criminal justice system's efficiency in an effort to combat a projected $3 million to $5 million deficit this year. The authority will ask the firm to review the contract with Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Tulsa Jail, and make recommendations on ways to reduce costs.  CCA's fee has gone up 32 percent -- to $48.60 from $36.76 per inmate per day -- in the five years it has had the contract. Some think that is an incredibly steep increase.  (Tulsa World)

July 21, 2004
The mother of a man who died May 13 while incarcerated at the Tulsa Jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America.  Tulsa police reported previously that Michael Andrew Jones, 27, apparently had killed himself using a plastic trash bag while in the jail's medical unit, where he was being observed for seizures.  Mary Jane Jones alleges that the private jail operator was negligent in her son's death because it did not provide ade quate supervision. Jail officials previously reported that Michael Andrew Jones had not been on suicide watch, and police said he had not threatened suicide.  Mary Jane Jones alleges that CCA should have known of her son's medical and mental circumstances. She maintains in court documents that her son suffered from a brain injury and was unable to care for himself or function normally.  Michael Andrew Jones was jailed on a charge of violating.  (Tulsa World) 

June 15, 2004
County commissioners authorized a special state audit of their finance offices Monday because of recent management changes and budgeting problems.  Commissioners and the county's jail authority are bothered now by escalating costs to keep Corrections Corporation of America operating the Tulsa County lock-up. The contract calls for the private firm to operate the county jail for more than $23 million during the coming year.  The problem for county leaders is that a dedicated sales tax designed to pay for the operation is raising only about $18 million a year.  Commissioners can't cut the budget of the jail operations because the county jail authority's contract with Corrections Corporation of America can't be ended without a 180-day notice period.  Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz said he has remained a critic of the county's jail authority since it opted to use a private company to operate the facility.  The problem with the authority's current agreement with Corrections Corp. of America, Glanz said, is that it pays the private company a daily rate for each inmate it keeps. Now, the rate is $47.18. It is expected to climb to $48.60 on July 1.  That's a luxury his department never enjoyed when it operated a county jail, said Glanz, who is running for re-election.  "I don't know of any other budget in county government that's doubled in five years," Glanz said.  (The Daily Oklahoman)

June 11, 2004
The family of a man who died in the lobby of the Tulsa Jail has settled a federal lawsuit against the facility's operator.  Plaintiffs' attorney Joel LaCourse declined Thursday to disclose terms of a settlement with Corrections Corporation of America, a private company that operates the jail.  CCA spokesman Chris Howard said he couldn't disclose any details of the settlement.  The family of Shane M. Spencer also sued the city of Tulsa, which settled the claims against it for $200,000 but made no admission of wrongdoing. A complaint first filed in Seminole County District Court in October 2002 stated that Spencer was arrested in October 2001 after collapsing in an east Tulsa driveway while he was in "an obvious state of alcoholic stupor."  Two Tulsa police officers then dragged Spencer, 27, into the jail on his face and "dumped" him there, alleged the lawsuit, which was moved to federal court in Tulsa in February 2003.  The lawsuit alleges that CCA officials allowed Spencer to lie face-down for several minutes before checking on him and beginning efforts to save his life.  (AP)

May 14, 2004
A David L. Moss Correctional Center inmate died Thursday night in an apparent suicide. The 27-year-old inmate, jailed for an alleged violation of a protective order, apparently killed himself by placing a plastic bag over his head, Detective Demita Kinard said. The man was being held in the center's medical wing for psychiatric reasons. (Tulsa World)

November 18, 2003
A new state law that adds county sales taxes to residential energy bills is expected to raise more than $4.5 million a year for the Tulsa Jail and local capital improvement projects.  Electricity and natural gas bills were untaxed until the Legislature passed Senate Bill 708, which took effect on Nov. 1. The law was written by Sen. Angela Monson, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Clay Pope, D-Loyal.  Paula Ross, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, said the law attempts to clarify a 1999 commission ruling that lifted a tax exemption for residential customers.  A recent auditor's report shows that the current sales tax stream for the Tulsa Jail is insufficient to pay its operating costs.  The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority has tapped its reserve funds, which have shrunk from $11.9 million in 2002 to $5.8 million in 2003, the report shows.  The Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the jail, was paid close to $21.1 million in 2003, a 22.8 percent increase from 2002.  (Tulsa World)

November 22, 2003
A pay-to-stay plan is a welcome source of new revenue but probably won't solve all the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority's financial problems, officials said.   During a meeting Friday at which the plan officially was approved, County Commission Chief Deputy Paul Wilkening said the authority could earn about $1.06 million a year by charging inmates for one night of their jail stay.  "The good news is that it helps the shortfall," Commissioner Bob Dick said. "The bad news is that it sure doesn't make up for what the state's doing to us."  The number of state inmates at the Tulsa Jail has been growing as the Department of Corrections has accepted fewer inmates at its intake facility in Lexington. The DOC reduced the weekly number of Tulsa County inmates it will accept to 36 from 52 last year. County officials have watched the DOC-ready inmate population at the jail balloon from 48 in October 2002 to 336 this month.  In an interview Friday, DOC spokesman Jerry Massie said the weekly number was reduced because last year only an average of 36 inmates were actually transported to prison each week by the sheriff.  "The majority of the time, more often than not, they don't send the full complement," he said.  The authority is only partially compensated for housing state inmates. The authority pays private jail operator Corrections Corporation of America $47.18 a day for each inmate, but the DOC reimburses the authority only $24 per day per inmate.  "That story can't be told too much or too often. The state is giving us an unfunded mandate of about $4.8 million dollars a year right now," Dick said. "The voters were kind enough in 1995 to vote a permanent tax on sales, and I don't think they voted thinking that this is going to subsidize the state system. I think they did it to take care of the local jail problem."  Massie said rural jails are more satisfied with the $24 rate than Tulsa County.  "It sounds like what Tulsa County's problem is is (that) their per-diem rate is so high," he said. "They'd probably be happy if it covered their cost; it wouldn't be as big of issue for them."  Wilkening previously has mentioned that the authority might want to pursue legal action against the state for causing the authority to have financial problems. Jim Orbison, the authority's attorney, said before Friday's meeting that a lawsuit would be a last resort.  A recent auditor's report shows that the current sales tax stream is insufficient to pay jail operating costs. The Criminal Justice Authority has tapped its reserve funds, which have shrunk from $11.9 million in 2002 to $5.8 million in 2003, the report shows. CCA was paid nearly $21.1 million in 2003, a 22.8 percent increase from 2002.  Dick said instituting the pay-to-stay plan is the "right move" and that the authority might want to consider broadening the scope after monitoring the results for a period of time. Prisoners will pay $47.18 for one night's stay -- the amount paid to CCA by the authority.  Inmates will be charged for only one day, regardless of the length of their jail stay. Wilkening said judges recommended the one-day charge because they felt that it would be easier to collect.  "It's a start, and it will generate a substantial amount of money if collected," Wilkening said. "If we can get a million-six or a million dollars and it can go back into the operation of the jail, then that's something."  CCA Warden Don Stewart estimated that about 30 percent of inmates spend only one night in jail.  (Tulsa World)

June 18, 2003
A former Tulsa Jail corrections officer has been charged with participating in a mail fraud scheme that took $1.2 million from WorldCom.  Henry Darian Wilson, 25, is charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tulsa with participating in criminal activity with his sister, Alisha Nicole Johnson, from January 2001 to March 2002 while she worked at WorldCom.  Charges against Johnson, 31, are expected to be filed soon.  The charge against Wilson says Johnson was a senior accounting assistant who audited accounts payable and approved payment invoices.  Prosecutors allege that she submitted false invoices to WorldCom's check-writing center in Virginia in the name of an Oklahoma City company that was a legitimate supplier of goods and services to WorldCom. Wilson, who lists a Coweta home address, is accused of renting a mail box in Oklahoma City in the company's name, retrieving the checks as they came in and having them deposited in bank accounts in Oklahoma City and Oceanside, Calif.  Wilson was a corrections officer from July 2000 to February 2001 at the Tulsa Jail, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, CCA spokesman Chris Howard said.  He said Wilson resigned without notice.  (Tulsa World)

May 30, 2003
The Tulsa Jail will have a $6.3 million budget deficit by the end of June, the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority was told Thursday.  County Fiscal Officer Wayne Carr cited a litany of factors contributing to growing detention costs and made suggestions on how to reduce the jail's inmate population.  The authority has to pay jail operator Corrections Corporation of America for those inmates at the normal rate of $45.81 a day and is only reimbursed $24 per inmate by the state. Carr said the state frequently falls behind in its payments and currently owes the authority about $380,000.  (Tulsa World)

May 28, 2003
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority decided Friday to allow a Texas-based company to charge the public to access inmate information from an Internet site. Some public records questions still need to be answered, however. Metric Technologies has been providing the service for free since Aug. 5 at http://tulsa.inmatecenter.com. Now the company is asking to be compensated for the service, starting June 5. The company gave the authority three options: paying $29,500 for the service for two years; paying $8,000 and passing off other charges to the public through a subscription-based system; or terminating the site. According to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, public documents should be open to inspection and public bodies can charge only for the direct cost of reproducing a document at 25 cents per page. Search fees are not allowed if a document is in the public interest. Calls to Metric Technologies on Friday were not returned. Trimble said the system has been a huge benefit and savings to jail operator Corrections Corporation of America, which doesn't have to answer as many public inquiries. (Tulsa World)

April 28, 2003
A clerical error has led to another mistaken release from the Tulsa Jail, officials said Friday.  Marvin Branham, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Tulsa Jail, said the jail released Dixon because workers received an "order of release from custody" for him from the court clerk's office.  Court Clerk employee Sonya Smith said it appears that when the bond was paid for Dickson, it was recorded as paid for Dixon's case number, not Dickson's.  In 2001, errors led to the mistaken releases of three inmates and two ere mistakenly released last year from the Tulsa Jail.  (AP)

March 27, 2003
A woman sues two corrections companies and an escapee who is accused of killing her husband.  A wrongful death suit was filed this week in connection with the Christmas Eve shooting of a Tulsa man that allegedly was carried out by an escapee from the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit.  Virginia Qureshi filed the suit on behalf of her late husband, Zubair Qureshi, previously referred to as Mohammad "James" Qureshi, 53, who was working behind the counter of the 24-hour U-Stop, 2520 E. Mohawk Blvd., when he was killed.  Defendants in the suit are the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Tulsa Jail; Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the Riverside facility; and Markis Daniels Rogers, who escaped from the Riverside facility Nov. 24.  Martin and Associates is representing Qureshi.  The law firm alleges that CCA employees transferred Rogers to the low-security Riverside facility operated by Avalon but continued to charge the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority to house him.  It alleges that CCA paid a Avalon a lower rate to house Rogers and pocketed the difference.  Attorney C. Rabon Martin, said that whether CCA made a profit by sending Rogers to the Riverside facility is irrelevant.  "The meat and potatoes is that they took a very dangerous guy to Avalon in low-security," he said.  Rogers was sent to the Riverside facility by mistake.  (Tulsa World).

January 20, 2003
A federal lawsuit filed by the estate of an inmate who died after becoming ill at the Tulsa Jail in July 1998 has been settled on confidential terms, attorneys said Wednesday.  Jeannie Edwards of Okmulgee County filed the suit in January 2000 after her brother, Gregory Allen Pope Sr., was pronounced dead at Tulsa Regional Medical Center on July 1, 1998.  The lawsuit originally listed both the city of Tulsa and Tulsa County among the defendants, but eventually only Wexford Health Sources, the jail's health services contractor at the time of Pope's death, remained.  The plaintiff claimed that Pope, 34, began vomiting and convulsing and that a trusty notified a nurse, who then allegedly chose to continue talking on a telephone instead of responding immediately to Pope's medical needs.  The estate alleged that 30 to 45 minutes passed before the nurse was brought to the scene by corrections officers.  Pope was taken by ambulance to TRMC, the lawsuit states. The estate claimed that Pope died of cardiac arrhythmia brought on by breathing in his vomit.  (Tulsa World)

December 27, 2002
A man who was critically injured when he was beaten by a fellow Tulsa Jail inmate has settled his lawsuit against the jail's operator under confidential terms, an attorney for the organization said Thursday. Brandon McKnight had sued Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs the jail, on May 31 in federal court. He claimed that CCA was negligent in placing him in the same cell as Joshua Cudjoe on Jan. 27, 2001. Cudjoe was found guilty in May 2001 of assaulting and battering McKnight with an intent to do bodily harm.  A corrections officer was fired for failure to perform his job properly in relation to the episode, in which McKnight suffered severe trauma to the throat, face and head, reports show. (Tulsa World)

December 23, 2002 
A burglary suspect who was shot by Broken Arrow police hanged himself with a bed sheet in a Tulsa Jail.  Scott Ray Dickens, 36, was discovered hanging in a medical cell about 9:05 p.m. Saturday, jail spokesman Chris Howard said.  Howard said Dickens had been jailed on charges including possession of a stolen vehicle and armed robbery.  (AP)

December 18, 2002
Tulsa County officials say reductions in the number of sentenced inmates being accepted each week by the Department of Corrections is creating a backlog of prisoners being housed in the Tulsa Jail at the expense of local taxpayers.  On Monday, 164 inmates were ready to go to the DOC's intake facility at Lexington, but the Sheriff's Office will only be al lowed to take 35 of them this week. If conviction and arrest rates stay the same, officials fear that number will continue to grow.  The DOC reimburses the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority $24 a day for each prison-ready inmate housed at the Tulsa Jail. But because the authority pays Corrections Corporation of America a daily per-inmate rate of $45.81, each of those state inmates wind up costing taxpayers $21.81 a day.  A task force has been formed to examine ways to reduce the jail population. Dick said discussions with Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Tulsa Jail, are under way to house those arrested for public drunk at a lower cost.  (Tulsa World.com)

September 22, 2002
Corrections Corporation of America terminated a new employee this week after she was arrested for possession of a controlled drug.  Daniele Marie Niedzialkowski, 25, was arrested Tuesday evening along with three others at a south Tulsa apartment.  CCA spokesman Chris Howard said Niedzialkowski was fired shortly after her arrest.  She had been working as a corrections officer at the Tulsa Jail after going through training in July.  Tulsa County sheriff's deputies arrived at the home to serve two arrest warrants regarding Russell Gilbert Campus, who, along with John Curtis Adams and Jason Michael Smith, was arrested for possession of a controlled drug.  Campus indicated to deputies that he was employed by CCA, but Howard said Campus had only applied for a job and had not been hired.  (Tulsa World News)

August 25, 2002
A former inmate who alleges that she was raped by a former Tulsa Jail supervisor is suing Corrections Corporation of America and past and present CCA employees. A lawsuit filed Friday in Tulsa County District Court on behalf of a 26-year-old woman alleges that she was "repeatedly raped and forcibly sodomized" by Eugene Pendleton while she was in the jail. Pendleton managed an addiction treatment unit at the CCA- operated Tulsa Jail. Former Warden Jim Cooke hired Pendleton for that post in 2001. At the time, Cooke said drug offenders relate well to someone such as Pendleton, who had overcome addiction. Her suit alleges that Pendleton was negligently hired, supervised and retained. It maintains that CCA, Stewart and Cooke knew of Pendleton's "violent criminal background" before and during his employment with CCA. Authorities with the Alabama Department of Corrections said Pendleton spent 17 years in prison there for second-degree murder in the death of a University of Alabama football player.   He was released from an Alabama prison in 1992, and he subsequently has worked at various CCA facilities. (Tulsa World)  

August 24, 2002
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority paid more last month to operate the jail than it earned from county sales taxes for the first time since the facility opened in 1999.  On Friday, the jail board approved the July payment of more than $2 million to Tulsa Jail operator Corrections Corporation of America, while only drawing $1.6 million from the county sales tax that funds operations.  But efforts are being made to avoid tapping reserves.  The transfer of about 100 inmates to a public drunk facility will begin on Wednesday in an effort to decrease the jail population and curb costs.  The jail board will pay Avalon Correctional Services $29.99 a day to hold an inmate at the former Adult Detention Center, now know as the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit.  CCA is paid $45.81 a day.  If inmates are diverted to Avalon each day, it will save about $500,000 a year.  (Tulsa World)

August 16, 2002
An employees at the Tulsa Jail was fired after her mistake in procedure allowed an inmate to walk out the front door.  Chris Howard, spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the jail, said the inmate followed a records clerk out of the booking area, past the inmate dressing rooms and operations desk and around a corner to a hallway that leads to two secure doors operated by the master control.  The records clerk asked the inmates where he was going.  Unsatisfied by his response, the clerk followed him to the doors, where he pushed a button requesting master control to open the doors, Howard said.  "The records clerk was waving to master control not to open the doors," he said.  But the doors were mistakenly opened anyway.  Stacy Barnes, the employee in master control that night, was fired for failing to identify an individual verbally or visually before opening two computer-operated doors that paved the way for the man's escape.  (AP)

August 13, 2002
A Tulsa Jail inmate's flight for freedom was short-lived when he was caught by police less than three hours after his escape, authorities said.  Scoot Edmiston, 38, of Tulsa, who was at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center on charges of driving under the influence and no insurance verification, escaped around 9:15 p.m., jail spokesman Chris Howard said.  Edmiston was arrested by Tulsa police at 12:06 a.m. Sunday.  The incident is under investigation, but it is believed the escape occurred because a staff member failed to follow identification procedures, Howard said.  (Tulsa World.com)

July 30, 2002
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority has accepted a $200,000 offer from a bankrupt company that failed to provide a computer system for the Tulsa Jail. The authority accepted the offer on Friday.   The total claim is nearly $600,000 for damages and incomplete work. But Dick said getting one-third of a claim is "not bad" for a bankruptcy case. (Staff Reports)

July 27, 2002
Business is booming at the Tulsa Jail-- so much so that the officials are looking for ways to lower inmate count to keep from busting the budget.  Jail board members said the increase in the inmate population could be linked to an underused program designed to divert public drunks to a treatment facility.  A study points to an increase in bookings on charges that could have been handled with a citation, jail board Chairman Bob Dick said.  "Apparently that's at least part of what's going on," Dick said.  The current pace has the jail on track to owe Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the lockup, more than $2 million for the month of July, County Fiscal Officer Wayne Carr said.  That's more money that the county expects to collect in sales taxes.  To lower inmate housing costs, the jail board will begin housing certain inmates in the former Adult Detention Center, a city-owned facility at 1727 Charles Page Blvd.  The jail board will pay Southern Corrections Systems Inc. $29.99 per day for each inmate housed at that facility.  Southern Corrections already operates the public inebriate program.  The jail board approved a measure Friday that extends the public inebriate program contract with Southern Corrections Systems until Nov.30 in hopes of seeking the booking increase.  (Tulsa World News)

May 27, 2002
Corrections Corporation of America, negotiating for a new contract running the Tulsa City- County jail, wants to charge inmates $8 every time they demand a sick call.   The fee, admittedly sometimes uncollectible, would slow the number of frivolous sick calls, which CCA officers say are as high as 90 percent of all claims of illness.   Although the purpose of the fee is to reduce infirmary visits, a co-pay charge will produce as much as $15,000 a year.   Given that most sick calls are frivolous, jail attendants should nevertheless be alert to spot genuinely sick inmates. Those jailed often are suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and a bevy of diseases. None of them should be denied the treatment they need. (The World)

May 26, 2002
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority on Friday approved a new contract with a private jail operator despite objections from Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune.   The three-year contract, with two one-year renewal options, will pay Corrections Corporation of America at least $20.62 million a year. That is a 20.6 percent increase from the estimated $17.1 million the Tennessee- based company will earn in the last year of its current contract.   LaFortune cast the dissenting vote after asking authority members to delay the vote for a month or even a week so that law enforcement, particularly the Tulsa Police Department, would have an opportunity to address ongoing concerns and make suggestions on the contract.   LaFortune also said he had not had enough time to review the new contract.   "I have only had this contract in my hands since Monday," the new mayor said. "This contract is far too critical to the public safety of Tulsans to be subject to such a rush review."   Palmer submitted a memo Friday to LaFortune that commented on the new contract. In the pre-booking area, where officers have complained about long waits Palmer said standards are set so low that CCA is never out of compliance. He recommended that CCA be required to complete the prebooking process in 30 minutes 90 percent of the time. The current standard is 75 percent.   Palmer said the quality of fingerprinting, photography and booking information at the jail "remains grossly inadequate for investigative purposes." (World Staff)

May 23, 2002
Corrections Corporation of America would be paid about $3.5 million more annually to operate the Tulsa Jail if a proposed contract with the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority is approved.   While a majority of authority members say they are in favor of signing a new contract with the Tennessee-based company, Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune said he is undecided.   The authority is expected to vote as soon as Friday on a three-year contract, with two one-year renewal options, that would pay CCA at least $20.62 million a year. That is a 20.63 percent increase from the estimated $17.1 million CCA will earn in the final year of its current contract. The authority would also pay $1.4 million annually for utility costs, which CCA pays under its current contract. LaFortune, the newest authority member, said he was just briefed on the new contract Monday and may ask the authority to defer on voting Friday.   "I know the timing is important as far as getting the contract in place, but I also believe that the public's interest outweighs having to rush into a contract," Tulsa's new mayor said. "To me, this is an extremely critical decision about the future of our jail."   LaFortune said he would like to speak to individuals involved with operating the jail as well as members of the Tulsa Police Department, which has previously expressed concerns about long waits to book in prisoners.   "That's a public safety issue, in my opinion, because it takes that arresting officer off the street for that period of time," he said.   LaFortune said he also wants to be assured that erroneous release problems have been addressed. (Tulsa World)

May 16, 2002
A female inmate at the Tulsa Jail hoarded medication and wound up in the hospital Tuesday after suffering the affects of an overdose.   Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Chris Howard said corrective action would be taken against a medical assistant for failing to crush the inmate's medication.   Elizabeth C. Horton, 25, was in the process of being transported to Corrections Department custody but was held back because she was pale, groggy and disoriented, Howard said. Horton was on medication not available in the liquid form, Webber said. CCA has maintained in the past that it crushes psychotropic drugs prior to administration. An understanding between CCA and the authority stemmed from CCA's being cited in a medical audit last year for not purchasing psychotropic drugs in the liquid form as required in its contract.   Following an attempted suicide in December, the authority gave CCA notice that it was still in violation of its contract by not administering psychotropic drugs in the liquid form. (Tulsa World)

May 11, 2002
The manager of the Tulsa Jail's female Addiction Treatment Unit is a self-admitted drug offender. But authorities with the Alabama Department of Corrections have confirmed that Eugene Pendleton also spent 17 years in prison for second-degree murder. Former Warden Jim Cooke hired Pendleton to run the women's Addiction Treatment Unit last year. At the time, Cooke said that drug offenders relate well to someone such as Pendleton who has overcome addiction. Pendleton has been working at various Correction Corporation of America facilities since he left prison. Cooke first met Pendleton in 1979 while he was serving his sentence in Alabama. Cooke worked for the Alabama Department of Corrections at the time. Don Stewart, who became warden of the Tulsa Jail earlier this year, said he was aware of Pendleton's murder conviction but that prospective employees with felony convictions are not automatically excluded from employment. Stewart said it's not unusual for CCA's treatment employees to have had a criminal past.  Court records indicate that a female inmate alleges she was sexually assaulted by Pendleton on Tuesday. A search warrant was filed Thursday in Tulsa County District Court to obtain samples from Pendleton for DNA and forensic testing.   (The Tulsa World)

May 9, 2002
A female inmate has accused a male staff member at the Tulsa Jail of rape, police said.  The case is being investigated by the Tulsa Police Department's Sex Crime Unit, Sgt. Gary Stansill said.  (The Tulsa World)

March 23, 2002
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority has penalized the private company that operates the Tulsa Jail for three mistaken releases last month. The panel, which oversees the jail, voted unanimously Friday to reduce compensation to Corrections Corporation of America by $5,625. The authority has paid CCA roughly $2.6 million to operate the jail so far this year. Two of the erroneous releases involved inmates who were still wanted in other jurisdictions. (AP)

March 7, 2002
Financial sanctions against the operator of the Tulsa Jail following two recent erroneous releases likely will be discussed at the next meeting of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority on March 22.   Tulsa County Commissioner Bob Dick said he will suggest that the authority withhold compensation to Corrections Corporation of America in accordance with its contract.   "I think we have a duty as an authority to take formal action," he said.  CCA's three-year contract is up for renewal in August, and negotiations are under way. But Dick said the latest incidents should not affect those talks.   Though there is some conjecture among county officials that the Sheriff's Office is going to get the jail back, Dick said it's "way too early to say that."   "I haven't had any sense we weren't going to come to terms at some point. Our lawyer and their lawyer are having some strong conversations about some language, especially in regard to the breach area, but I'm comfortable that will be worked out."   Commissioner John Selph said the latest mistaken releases, discovered Feb. 24 and 27, are the result of employee negligence, and CCA should be penalized.   "We need to hold their feet to the fire," Selph said. The jail board notified CCA in July that it was in breech of its contract following two erroneous releases in May, but the board fell short of fining the company.   In other developments, six to eight people have been identified in connection with the apparent illegal transfer of more than $17,000 from the inmate account at the Tulsa Jail. (Tulsa World)

March 1, 2002
Police fraud and computer crimes detectives are investigating the disappearance of more than $17,000 from the Tulsa Jail's inmate account. The money apparently was withdrawn from the Corrections Corporation of America account using either phone lines or the Internet, said Sgt. Tony Cellino, supervisor of the Fraud Unit. (Tulsa World)

March 1, 2002
A convicted felon who was wanted by federal authorities for possession of a handgun was mistakenly released from the Tulsa Jail last week. The mistake -- the second of its kind to be discovered in less than a week -- was realized only after police arrested the man again Wednesday. The latest erroneous release was discovered Wednesday when Lance J. Sherwood, 30, was arrested by members of the Northern Oklahoma Fugitive Task Force in the parking lot of the Target store at 71st Street and Memorial Drive. When officials looked at his record, they realized that Sherwood still should have been in jail following a previous arrest.  CCA officials are exploring what further action they can take against a jail intake clerk who was fired Monday following Sunday's mistaken release of Courtney K. Thompson, 20. (Tulsa World)

February 26, 2002
A female inmate who was wanted in Osage County was mistakenly released Sunday morning from the Tulsa Jail.   Courtney K. Thompson, 20, of Pawhuska, was released from jail about 8:30 a.m. after posting bond on DUI and traffic charges. She had been jailed since late Saturday.   Chris Howard, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said the jail received information from the police about an hour before Thompson was released that she was to be held for Osage County relating to charges of assault with a dangerous weapon.   "We received the add-on charge, and the intake clerk failed to enter it into the computer," Howard said.   The intake clerk, Ahmad Watkins, who had worked at the facility for about a year, was fired as a result, Howard said.   Thompson was not back in custody Monday afternoon at either the Tulsa Jail or the Osage County Jail.   Charlie Cartwright, the administrator of the Osage County Jail, said its lines of communication with CCA in relation to inmate holds are not good.   "The communications we have between the public sectors and private sector that operates that private facility" sometimes leaves "a lot to be desired," he said. (Tulsa World)

February 8, 2002
A committee of prominent lawyers will look at operations of the privately run Tulsa Jail, specifically the release process.   Attorney Allen Smallwood, who will be the committee's chairman, said a wait of six to 18 hours for release -- after charges are dismissed or bond has been posted -- is not unusual.   "I don't want to be ugly about it, but that place is 2-1/2 years old, and we've had a lot of time for initial growing pains to be worked out," he said. Phil Frazier, president of the Tulsa County Bar Association, said the committee was formed following complaints from attorneys and residents.   When the sheriff ran the jail, Frazier said, an attorney or bond agent could secure a release in a matter of minutes. But long waits have become the norm since CCA took over in August 1999, he said.   Longer jail stays also contribute to higher jail costs in some cases.   The Criminal Justice Authority pays CCA $38.02 a day for each inmate, based on a midnight count.   "It is suspect," Frazier said. "I can think of no other reason why they'd want to hold someone for an inordinate amount of time other than for some financial gain." (Tulsa World)

December 21, 2001
A former jailer at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center was sentenced Thursday to three years and one month in prison for attempting to smuggle methamphetamine to an inmate for $40.   Edwin M. Vasquez, 47, was also ordered to serve three years of post-custody supervised release and was fined $2,500 by U.S. Senior District Judge H. Dale Cook.   Vasquez received an enhanced punishment for abusing a position of trust. Officials with Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that operates the Tulsa Jail, said Vasquez was fired the day he was arrested. (Tulsa World)

December 16, 2001
A city-county contract committee negotiating with the company that operates the Tulsa Jail is pushing a "categorized system" for inmate releases that will cut down on delays. Apparently, every inmate -- even those who never change into an orange jail jumpsuit because they are able to post bond -- is thrown into the same boat when it comes to waiting. Slow release times have been a point of contention with the authority since the jail opened under CCA's leadership in August 1999.   Officials have heard complaints from everyone from the U.S. Marshal's Service to frustrated parents who have had problems getting inmates out of jail when it's time for their release.   Slow releases also have a financial impact when an inmate who has already posted bond is held past midnight, when inmates are counted. The Authority pays CCA about $38 a day for each inmate. (Tulsa World)

December 8, 2001
Don Stewart will be the fourth since it opened.   The Tulsa Jail will get a fourth new warden in nearly 2-1/2 years of operation under Corrections Corporation of America.   Don Stewart, a warden at CCA's McRae (Ga.) Correctional Facility, will become warden of the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in the first week of January, the company announced Friday.   Warden Jim Cooke will be "appointed as warden at an as yet undetermined CCA facility," the company said.   Cooke referred all questions about the move to company spokesmen.   The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority has found CCA to be in breach of its contract to run the Tulsa Jail twice in the last six months. The company was cited in July after two inmates were erroneously released in May and again last week when it was discovered that jail medical staff were administering psychotropic drugs in an improper form. (Tulsa World)

December 1, 2001
Corrections Corporation of America violated its contract to run the Tulsa Jail when Wayne Henry Garrison's psychotropic medication was not administered in liquid form, a county official says.  CCA incident reports obtained by the Tulsa World show that Garrison, 42, was breathing and snoring throughout the night but that staff could not wake him during medication calls at 10 p.m. Tuesday and 3 a.m. Wednesday.  Sentencing proceedings for the convicted child murderer were delayed after Garrison was hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday morning. Initial reports were that Garrison was being treated for an overdose, though his defense attorney indicated that he could have suffered a stroke.  Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority Chairman John Selph said he is drafting a letter to other board members to recommended that CCA be held in breach of its contract.  "The fact that he was given the antidepressant and he was not given it in liquid form is in itself a violation of the contract," Selph said. "It's simply inexcusable."  (Tulsa World)

December 1, 2001
A Tulsa County official is drafting a letter recommending that the private company running the Tulsa Jail be held in breach of its contract for not properly administering medication to a convicted killer.  John Selph, chairman of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, alleges that Corrections Corporation of America violated its contract to run the facility when Wayne Henry Garrison was not given psychotropic medication in liquid form.  (AP)

November 16, 2001
A proposal to divert some Tulsa County Sheriff's Office duties to the Corrections Corporation of America may help prevent accidental jail releases, officials say.  Representatives of the sheriff's office, the Tulsa County Court Clerk's Office, CCA and others want to streamline the jail release process while preventing bad releases.  Four inmates have been erroneously released in the past two months.  The proposal would be for CCA to hire two to three people whose primary responsibility would be in the handling of jail commitments and releases.  The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority would be asked to fund the positions. CCA Warden Jim Cooke said the new positions are not in the company's contract with the authority.  (Tulsa World)

November 7, 2001
Two inmates were erroneously released from Tulsa Jail custody last week.  Emily Diane Elmore was being held for failure to appear in court for sentencing on a drug possession charge, court records show.  "The issuance of releases on cases previously dismissed should have absolutely no affect on the system whatsoever," Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith said. "I will admit and take responsibility if I or my staff makes mistakes, but these are not my mistakes, and I'm getting tired of trying to solve their problems while they try to indirectly implicate that it's the fault of my office."  Smith said Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs the jail, should have noticed that the charges were already dismissed.  In another erroneous release identified by officials, Oscar Herrera, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison for robbing two Tulsa convenience stores, left the Tulsa Jail on Nov. 1 but was never out of custody. Masek said Herrera was transported prematurely to the state Department of Corrections processing center in Lexington.  (Tulsa World)

October 27, 2001
Those attending the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority meeting Friday seemed to be in agreement on the "weakest link" that is resulting in erroneous releases from the Tulsa Jail.   As long as paperwork for commitments and release orders remains separate and arrives at the jail at different times, some inmates will get out of jail when they should still be locked up. CCA acknowledges responsibility for four bad releases of inmates since it took control of the jail in August 1999. The authority maintains that the Tennessee-based company was in breach of its contract after two erroneous releases in May. In other business, the authority approved a request for additional funding to bring the Adult Detention Center up to code so Avalon Correctional Services can operate the public inebriate alternative program and facility for halfway house and public works offenders. Flintco project manager Mark Knowlton estimated the cost at $48,421 and said the PIA program may be ready to start in December. (Tulsa World)

October 14, 2001
Tulsa County officials are looking into separate incidents in which Tulsa Jail inmates were released after posting bond on lesser charges. Both later showed up for court on their own.   In one instance, a man sentenced to five years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections custody got a last weekend of freedom after an apparent computer error. Edward Shannon, also known as Gary L. Shannon, 26, was sentenced Oct. 4 on a felony conviction of possession of firearms. Meanwhile, officials are still trying to sort out how Clifford Williams was allowed to bond out of jail on traffic charges stemming from a drug arrest. Williams, 55, was originally charged with possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. But that charge was amended to a lesser drug possession charge on June 5 and Williams was bound over for trial. Williams was released after posting bond on his traffic charges instead of the $25,000 bond on his drug charge. The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority recently notified CCA that it was in breach of its contract to operate the jail for past erroneous releases. To date, Masek said CCA has not provided a remedy or cure for those mistakes. (Tulsa World)

September 29, 2001
Members of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority hope that long-awaited inmate-tracking software will help alleviate some problems at the Tulsa Jail.  Particularly, they hope it will enable inmates to get out of jail quicker after they have posted bond.  Tulsa County Commissioner Bob Dick said he sees a correlation between CCA's staff shortage and the delayed release times. Tulsa County jail compliance officer Larry Merchant said the entry-level staff who deal with releases could be another possible reason for the delays.  "That's where most of your turnover is, and so the level of expertise hasn't been able to occur in that area," Merchant said.  Warden Jim Cooke said he is short 38 officers and training classes for new employees start every other week.  Since CCA is paid by the day based on a midnight inmate count, Dick said delayed release times appear suspicious.  "As far as I'm concerned, if and when we rewrite the contract, there has to be a provision that the clock stops running when the bond has been posted," Dick said.  (Tulsa World)

September 26, 2001
A Coweta man who was charged in a reported theft of $12, 234 from the Tulsa Jail received a five-year deferred sentence Tuesday.  Danny Dean Oliver Jr., 21, pleaded guilty to grand larceny.  He resigned following the disappearance of money from a safe in the jail's administrative area in April.  A prosecutor said reports show that money in the safe had been removed from people when they were booked into the jail.  According to Tulsa police, Corrections Corporation of America declined to continue an investigation after the money was returned.  County officials said earlier that Oliver Jr. is the son of Danny Oliver, CCA's assistant chief of security and a former detention officer for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.  (Tulsa World)

September 20, 2001
A former Tulsa jail employee has paid a high price for trying to smuggle methamphetamine to an inmate for $40.  Edwin M. Vasquez pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of a three-count federal indictment. Vasquez, 47, worked for Corrections Corporation of America at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center.  (AP)

September 2, 2001
Stripping an empty Tulsa Jail housing pod for spare parts is a "bad practice" that Warden Jim Cooke says he intends to stop.  Corrections Corporation of America has been informed by the county's contract monitor that the missing items need to be replaced.  The Tennessee company, which operates the jail under contract, was also reminded that it is responsible for keeping the 2-year-old facility in "good repair and in good working order."  The contract monitor, Joe Masek, found pod J-7 inoperable because of missing cell doors, door handles, locks and intercom speakers.  "These items appear to have been scavenged to repair items in other parts of the facility," Masek said.  "I feel strongly that these items should be replaced as soon as possible."  (Tulsa World) 

August 29, 2001
Corrections Corporation of America has disciplined four employees following the escape of an inmate who posed as another inmate scheduled for release from the Tulsa Jail.  (Tulsa World)

August 25, 2001
Higher cost have been incurred at the jail because of an increase in court hearings.  The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority on Friday approved more than $333,000 in additional compensation to Corrections Corporation of America that was not anticipated in original contract negotiations with the Tennessee company to operate the Tulsa Jail.  CCA Warden Jim Cooke submitted a request to cover costs incurred from additional court hearings at the Tulsa Jail.  CCA officers are held from previous shifts and work overtime to cover court needs, according to Cooke.  "It's another case of external forces impacting (the budget),"  Commissioner Bob Dick said.  Dick, as well as Skiatook Mayor Don Billups and Commissioner Wilbert Collins, expressed disappointment that the issue had not been foreseen in the original contract and that the bill had just now been presented in an accumulated sum.  County Fiscal Officer Wayne Carr said that the authority's budget, which comes from a 5/12ths cent sales tax, seems to be incurring more and more unexpected expenses.  "You amend the budget by $300,000 and the cash cow is going to have to have more cream," Carr told the authority.  The authority encountered other expenses as well Friday, approving more than $355,000 in estimated maintenance costs at the Adult Detention Center.  Costs at the detention center are to bring the building up to code and to pay for other maintenance in preparation for the operation of a 40-bed public inebriate alternative program.  Supporters say the program will reduce jail costs by diverting public drunks from the jail and housing them for less money and shorter lengths of time.  Avalon Correctional Services has a contract to operate the program while also staffing a minimum- to medium-security halfway house and housing public works offenders.  (Tulsa World) 

August 18, 2001
A Tulsa Jail inmate used the identity of another inmate who was scheduled for release to walk out of the facility Thursday morning. Brandon Florence, 22, who was being held on two counts of false declaration of ownership to a pawn broker, switched identification badges with John W. Proffitt, 20, who was serving an eight-day DUI sentence. Florence was still at large Friday and faced additional felony charges of escape and false impersonation. He is the second inmate to escape from the Tulsa Jail by impersonating another inmate. In November, Brenda Wheeler, 41, used the armband identification bracelet of another inmate to gain release. "CCA put things in place to stop this, and it's continued," said Joe Masek, the Tulsa County contract monitor for the jail. (Tulsa World)

August 14, 2001
A representative of the American Correctional Association was in Tulsa on Monday for a second audit of the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, a Facility the accrediting group deemed "second-to-none" in March.  Former jail employees Debrah Cartwright, who was an addictions treatment manager, and Shelle Dummer, who was an addictions treatment counselor, said the visit was prompted by documentation that they and other former and current employees sent to the group.  That documentation illustrates the jail's practice of pepper-spraying inmates and restraining certain inmates with leg irons, belly chains and handcuffs during their required recreation hour.  "We point-blank told them if they didn't check it out and see what was going on, that we were going to turn it over to the media," Cartwright said.  (Tulsa World)

August 7, 2001
A second jailer at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center was arrested Friday in connection with alleged drug smuggling inside the jail, authorities said Monday.  Robert Wayne Taylor, 37, was arrested on a complaint of possession of marijuana inside a correctional facility with the intent to distribute, police said.  (Tulsa World)

August 4, 2001
Federal prosecutors have filed drug charges against a jailer at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center for allegedly delivering simulated narcotics to an inmate and illegally possessing a firearm that allegedly was also meant for the prisoner.  Edwin M. Vasquez, 47, was charged with attempting to distribute less than 50 grams of a substance that appeared to be methamphetamine as well as possessing a firearm that was not registered to him.  (AP)

August 2, 2001
A Tulsa felon who got 11 unscheduled days of freedom when he was erroneously released from jail in May was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for a marijuana offense.  Prosecutors filed only a possession-with-intent charge on May 23, for which Donald Abraham Manning was supposed to be held on $45,000 bail.  But the related second complaint was dropped, and a Corrections Corporation of America booking supervisor authorized Manning's release from jail without any bond being posted.  Manning was arrested again June 4 at a Tulsa residence.  While free on the mistaken release, he attended court for a May 31 arraignment, and officials realized he was supposed to still be in jail.  (Tulsa World)

July 28, 2001
Response to a Tulsa Jail inmate's sick call can take up to six days, due largely to a shortage of nurses, according to a medical services audit submitted Friday to the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority.  That situation was made worse this week, when four nurses quit "for personal reasons," Corrections Corporation of America spokesperson Chris Howard said.  No action was taken on the audit at the authority's Friday meeting, where members said they had not had a chance to review its findings.  The Tulsa Jail needs to have an obstetrician-gynecologist on contract to visit the facility at least twice a month for female inmates.  No such doctor has been to the jail in the past year, records show.  The audit also found that the Tulsa Jail was not complying with National Commission on Correctional Health Care standards that require dental exams within 90 days of an inmate's admission.  In addition, jailers have not been responding to inmates' complaints about medical services within the required 15-day period, records show.  (Tulsa World)

July 20, 2001
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority decided against sanctioning Corrections Corporation of America for the mistaken releases of two inmates in May.  Authority members voted 5-1 Thursday to give the Tulsa Jail operator written notice that a breach occurred and offer the company a 30-day "cure" period during which it would acknowledge the breach and explain any changes that have been made to prevent errors from recurring.  (AP)

July 15, 2001
Nearly three out of four original employees at the Tulsa Jail no longer work at the facility Corrections Corporation of America that began operating less than two years ago.  CCA reported a 72 percent turnover in staff between August 1999 and June 2001.  That means that of the 329 people who went to work for CCA, 327 have departed while 92 have remained on staff.  The facility is also on its third warden since it opened.  Warden Jim Cooke said staffing is higher than it has ever been.  Yet records show that there were 36 overall vacancies at the facility in June 2001, compared to 20 in November 2000.  CCA counts employees still in training and not able to actually work in the facility as staffed positions, a method that county officials say keeps the company within contractual guidelines with the jail authority.  Branham said there are typically 20 to 23 people in training.  Until the jail is fully staffed, Cooke said he has condensed the five-week training period to 3-1/2 weeks in order to get people to work sooner.  The company emphasized that the trainees are still in class the same number of hours.  (Tulsa World)

June 23, 2001
A July 16 preliminary hearing was ordered Friday for a man charged with the April theft of $12, 000 of inmates' money from a safe at the Tulsa County jail operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.  The Tulsa County district attorney's office filed the felony grand larceny charges against Danny Dean Oliver Jr., 21, of Coweta, although corrections corporation declined to press charges.  Oliver, on the advice of his attorney, James M. Caputo, declined to clarify after his arraignment Friday whether he was a corrections company employee or worked for a contractor that provides phone service to inmates.  He reportedly resigned after the incident.  (The Saturday Oklahoman)

June 23, 2001
A decision was deferred on whether to penalize the Tulsa Jail's private operator for two recent bad inmate releases after members of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority haggled over whether to even discuss Friday's agenda item.  "We know how political it is to the constituents of Tulsa County, whether we address this or don't address this.  I think we can sense that by our urgency here," Jenks Mayor Mike Tinker said.  "But it's also something I want to look at completely before making a decision."  County Commissioners Bob Dick and John Selph are in favor of reducing the authority's monthly payment to CCA by an amount estimated between $6,000 and $7,000.  Selph has said the best way to hold CCA accountable was through the pocketbook.  Dick said CCA has admitted its mistakes and the breach of contract is simply a fact.  Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage said she thinks the determination of a breach is a legal issue.  "I'm interested in a discussion about how a breach is defined, pursuant to the contract," she said.  G. Don Haslam Jr., the authority's legal counsel, said the two bad releases in May were breaches in his opinion.  CCA's opportunity to cure a breach within 30 days is waived when the breach is considered a threat to public safety and when it is repetitive, Haslam said.  (Tulsa World)

June 16, 2001
A former Tulsa Jail inmate filed a tort claim in excess of $250,000 against the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, alleging that he was denied HIV medications while in jail.  Daniel McClure claims that he was denied treatment when he was in jail on separate occasions -- June 12, 2001, and Nov. 22-25, 2000 -- which has resulted in the progression of his disease.  Authority Chairman John Selph told McClure repeatedly in an earlier authority meeting, which had been staffed with extra sheriff's deputies, to visit with Tulsa County Contract Monitor Joe Masek about his concerns.  "He failed to do that.  At this point, I really don't know if there's any validity to his claim," Selph said.  (Tulsa World)

June 13, 2001
A corrections officer resigned from his job at the Tulsa Jail after jail personnel found Valium in his sock during an employee shakedown last Thursday.  Corrections Corporation of America spokesperson Chris Howard said Ted Roosevelt Crisp, 19, resigned after the pills were discovered.  Crisp had been employed by CCA since Oct. 23.  (Tulsa World)

June 12, 2001
With the philosophy that the best way to hold a private contractor accountable is to hit them in the pocket book, two county commissioners are recommending that the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority withhold a portion of its monthly payment to the Tennessee-based company that operates the Tulsa Jail.  "That, I think, gets their attention,"  authority Chairman John Selph said.  He said the authority's contract with CCA allows the panel to withhold about $620 a day times the number of days the inmate was at large.  Selph said he expects to withhold between $6,000 and $7,000.  "I think it's a fairly modest amount," he said.  Selph said the warden didn't want the commissioners to recommend the fine and took great pains to show them the new procedures he was putting in place.  "All of those things need to be done.  I hope it will correct the problems," Selph said.  "On the other hand, it's about accountability and public safety and doing everything we can to ensure it."  (Tulsa World)

June 10, 2001
The warden of the Tulsa Jail believes two well-publicized mistaken releases at the facility aren't out of line, considering the number of prisoners housed there.  Warden Jim Cooke concedes the incidents are a problem for Corrections Corporation of America, but he doesn't think a county official's recommendation to fine the Nashville, Tenn., company is a good idea.  "Commissioner (Bob) Dick is an elected official of this county," Cooke said.  "He has to do what he thinks is right for the citizens of this county, which I am one.  As for me at CCA, no I don't think that's right."  Andrew Roberts, booking supervisor, who had been with CCA since 1996, claimed that a lack of training in reading court documents played a part in his mistakes.  (AP)

June 7, 2001
Corrections Corporation of America fired a booking supervisor Wednesday saying that not only had he been involved in two recent bad releases but was also involved in the mistaken release of a convicted killer last July.  If CCA wants to prevent future accidental releases, the former booking supervisor suggests the company might want to start by teaching its employees how to do essential parts of the job.  "I was never trained in how to read court documents.  I was self-taught," Andrew Roberts said.  "No one ever gave me any formal training on how to do anything down there."  "Basically, it's what they call being thrown to the wolves."  Roberts says he feels like a scapegoat.  "After speaking with several other employees who have been wrongfully terminated, I probably have a book that you could write," he said.  "I think there was no investigation.  They already decided they were going to terminate me."  (Tulsa World)

June 5, 2001
A Corrections Corporation of America employee faced disciplinary action after another inmate was accidentally released at the Tulsa Jail, officials said Monday.  Donald A. Manning, 30, was arrested May 17 on felony charges of marijuana possession with the intent to distribute and possession of marijuana in the presence of a minor child.  The latter charge was dismissed May 24, but Manning was supposed to be held in lieu of $45,000 bond on the first charge.  A booking supervisor, however, authorized Manning's release and he went free May 25.  Police arrested Manning Monday night.  Marvin Branham, a spokesperson for Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA, said the discovery was made after Manning's appearance at a hearing on Thursday.  On Monday, Branham placed the blame solely on a booking supervisor, who he says was involved in both bad releases.  There have been 11 mistaken releases from the Tulsa Jail since it opened in August 1999, the Tulsa World reported.  (AP)

June 2, 2001
Difficulties were experienced with the Tulsa Jail's security system early Friday morning that made the doors to the housing units to be opened via computer.  Corrections Corporation of America spokesperson Chris Howard said that the doors were shut down for about eight minutes before jail personnel used a backup system of keys to open the doors.  All but two of the unit doors are now working he said.  (Tulsa World)

May 31, 2001
The private operator of the Tulsa Jail would be fined for accidentally releasing an inmate under a recommendation by a Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority member.  "I've reviewed the contract, and I believe we've been very tolerant, and it's time to be more forceful," Bob Dick said Wednesday.  There have been 10 mistaken releases since the jail opened in August 1999.  Nashville-based CCA does not accept blame for many of those releases, and local authorities admit the company could not be blamed for the release earlier this month of man police call the "ponytail bandit."  Blame for four accidental release and two escapes have been attributed to CCA, Tulsa County Contract Monitor Joe Masek said.  Dick said perhaps CCA should take a harder look at employee training and human errors.  In January, the jail's new warden Jim Cooke told authority members that he had implemented a policy that would stop the accidental releases, if correctly followed.  (AP)

May 30, 2001
For the second time this month, an inmate has been erroneously released from the Tulsa Jail.  Clifford Meano, 37, had been bound over for trial on 11 counts of lewd molestation on a minor child after a preliminary hearing Tuesday.  Chris Howard, a spokesperson for Corrections Corporation of America, said two of the original 13 charges against Meano had been dropped Tuesday and that apparently jail workers had interpreted the court documents as meaning all counts had been dropped.  Earlier this month, a man police call the "ponytail bandit" was mistakenly released from jail because of an apparent paperwork error.  The erroneous release was not noticed until a week later.  Since his release, police confirmed that he is suspected of robberies on May 13 and May 21.  Earlier this year, a Texas inmate who had been transported to Tulsa to face drug and stolen vehicle charges was erroneously released from the Tulsa Jail.  Sheriff's Capt. George Haralson said the Jan. 27 mistake was not discovered until April, when the District Attorney's Office was updating its files.  (Tulsa World)

May 25, 2001
A new policy being considered at the Tulsa Jail would force inmates to pay part of their health care.  Oklahoma law allows $8 medical co-payments to be deducted from an inmate's jail account.  Jim Cooke, warden at the Jail run by Corrections Corporation of America, has indicated he would like to start the practice June 1.  Some inmates claim their medical needs are not being met at the jail and that sick calls are ignored.  The corrections company would charge fees to an inmate's commissary account for each "self-initiated" request for medical, dental or psychological treatment.  Fees for X-rays, therapy, lab work and prescription drugs would also be charged to the account.  (AP)

May 20, 2001
A grand jury that will be impaneled June 12 to investigate the 1998 drowning of a Jenks girl will also be required to inspect the Tulsa Jail.  A jail inspection is required by state statute any time there is a grand jury investigation.  The statute requires specifically that the grand jury inquire into the case of every person imprisoned in the jail who has not been charged, that they look at the condition and management of the jail, and also "into the willful and corrupt misconduct in office of public officials of every description in the county."  (Tulsa World)

May 19, 2001
A man police call the "ponytail bandit" was mistakenly released from jail last week due to an apparent error, authorities said.  The May 11 mistaken release of Steven Mark Holley, 42, was discovered Friday.  Chris Howard, spokesperson for Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that operates the Tulsa Jail, said local authorities did not inform the jail that Holley should have been held for federal charges.  However, Assistant District Attorney Mickey Hawkins said the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Marshall's Office and the U.S. Attorney's office were all informed that state charges were dismissed in order to pursue federal charges that authorities hoped would result in a more severe sentence.  "They knew the status, " Hawkins said.  "They were presented with the federal indictment and knew he was in custody.  What happens with their mechanics from there, I can't tell you."  (Tulsa World)

May 13, 2001
Corrections officers who work for Corrections Corporation of America are familiar with life inside the Tulsa Jail, but that's partly because some of them have been on the other side of a lockup.  The Tulsa World compared a CCA list of 348 employees with computerized jail records that date back to 1996 and found that 20 employees have been arrested prior to working for CCA.  Though the majority of arrests were related to traffic offenses, some were arrested for more serious crimes such as burglary, pointing a deadly weapon, resisting an officer, harboring a fugitive from justice, growing marijuana, assault and battery, making obscene phone calls, shoplifting and obtaining merchandise by fraud.  According to a February 2000 internal memo obtained by the Tulsa World, CCA was in violation of its contract with the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority because, according to its personnel department, background checks had not been done on 40 percent of the employees.  (Tulsa World)

May 4, 2001
Debrah Cartwright said she thought it was wonderful when her boss asked her to put together a sales pitch to encourage area judges to start ordering people into the Tulsa Jail's drug addiction treatment program.  But Cartwright said that was before Warden Jim Cooke told her they weren't really going to offer what they proposing, nor was he going to provide any additional counselor training.  Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that operates the jail, simply needed the revenue, she said she was told.  "I asked him if he was asking me to create a sales pitch for all these facets of the program when he had no intention of following through, and he said treatment was not our focus at the time, filling up beds was," Cartwright said.  "He said that right now we need to generate some income."  Cartwright, who was CCA's addictions treatment manager, said she resigned April 24 because she felt it would have been unethical to promote a drug treatment program that the jail had no real intention of offering.  "We were a dog and pony show.  My role turned into...PR.  He wanted the program so he could tell everybody we had it," Cartwright said.  Participants normally underwent 11 hours a day in the program, but currently the home in the dorm-like setting of the drug treatment pod are working nine of those 11 hours in the kitchen, she said.  "He's made it mandatory they go to the kitchen to cook," she said.  "If they're not willing to work in the kitchen, he puts them in 23-hour lockdown."  While they are in the kitchen cooking, Cartwright said her former counselors are working in the pods as counselors, handing out clothing and sheets and serving meals.  The male pod for addiction treatment is closed, and men in the addiction program attend a class for one hour a day, she said.  CCA spokesperson Chris Howard confirmed that the male pod is currently empty.  (Tulsa World) 

May 4, 2001
Charges are expected to be filed Friday in the recent theft of $12,000 from a safe at the Tulsa Jail.  The District Attorney's Office confirmed that it plans to file felony charges against Danny Oliver Jr. for grand larceny.  County officials say that Oliver Jr. worked for a company that contracts to provide inmate phone service at the jail and resigned following the incident.  They said that he is also the son of Danny Oliver, Corrections Corporation of America assistant chief of security and former detention officer for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.  But investigating officers said they would turn over the results of their investigation to the District Attorney's Office, regardless of whether or not CCA wanted to press charges.  (Tulsa World)  

April 28, 2001
Despite a decision by Corrections Corporation of America officials not to press charges, Tulsa police say they are continuing their investigation into the theft of inmate money from a safe at the Tulsa Jail earlier this week.  Capt. Ray Nelson said that CCA Warden Jim Cooke had asked the police to investigate after some $12, 000 was discovered missing from a safe in the jail's administrative area Monday morning.  While police were questioning employees, one of them went into Cooke's office and confessed to the theft, Nelson said.  The investigation was temporarily halted when Cooke told police that a jail employee had admitted to taking the money and was going to return it, Nelson said.  "I'm puzzled," said Larry Merchant, the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority's compliance officer over CCA.  "Normally, employers want to have the laws enforced."  Criminal Justice Authority Chairman John Selph said that it should be the district attorney's decision whether or not to file charges.  "It can't be dropped," he said.  Selph said the incident raises questions on jail security.  (Tulsa World)

April 27, 2001
A Texas inmate transported to Tulsa to face local drug and stolen vehicle charges was accidentally released from the Tulsa Jail earlier this year.  Sheriff's Capt. George Haralson said that the Jan. 27 mistake was only discovered this week when the District Attorney's Office was updating its files.  A quick call to Texas authorities revealed that Darrel Ray Heinrichs, 20, had voluntarily turned himself into the Texas Department of Corrections in Huntsville on Feb. 5.  Heinrichs was taken into custody by Tulsa County sheriff's deputies at a Texas Department of Corrections facility in Huntsville and was transported and then booked in the Tulsa Jail on Jan. 5, Haralson said.  Heinrichs faced drug possession and stolen vehicle charges in Tulsa County.  But after Heinrichs received a suspended sentence for his Tulsa County charges, he was released by Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that operates the jail, on Jan. 27 instead of being transported back to Texas to serve out a term for drug possession, Haralson said.  (Tulsa World)

April 26, 2001
Apparently one suspect confessed to the warden about the theft of $12,000.  CCA officials declined to continue a police investigation into the theft of about $12,000 from a safe at the Tulsa Jail after an employee confessed to taking the money, police said.  Tulsa Police Capt. Ray Nelson said police were interviewing several jail employees regarding the theft of inmate money from a safe in the jail's administrative area Sunday or early Monday.  Investigators were considering the possibility of administering polygraph tests when one of the subjects went into Warden Jim Cooke's office and confessed on Monday, he said.  "It just appears a little unusual that you have a public employee that's accused of taking $12,000 that was turned in by the prisoners and not want to pursue it any further," Nelson said.  CCA public information officer Chris Howard said that the company had no comment and would provide no information regarding the theft.  (Tulsa World)

April 6, 2001
Tulsa County jurors imposed a $1,000 fine Thursday upon finding a former Tulsa Jail nurse guilty of preparing false evidence regarding the death of an inmate 3-1/2 years ago.  That verdict carried no prison or jail sentence for Charlene Annette Crawford and does not require her to spend any time on probation.  Crawford, who married last year and is now known as Charlene Phillips, and Troy Desonia were indicted in 1998 by a multi-county grand jury that investigated the death of Charles Edward Guffey.  Crawford and Desonia worked for Wexford Health Services Inc., which had a contract to provide medical services for the old Tulsa Jail and the Adult Detention Center at the time of Guffey's 1997 death.  Guffey, a 39-year-old defendant in a drug case, was found dead in his cell on Oct. 14, 1997, at the detention center.  He died of a perforated ulcer.  The manslaughter count against Crawford was dismissed Monday at the request of prosecutors, who continued to pursue their allegation that she had participated in altering Guffey's medical charts after his death.  Crawford testified Thursday that she had made three late charting entries, but she indicated that she had no intent to deceive or mislead anyone.  (Tulsa World)

March 31, 2001
A labor relations consultant this week reported two more alleged unfair labor practices by Corrections Corporation of America, the Tulsa Jail Operator.  Filed with the National labor Relations Board, which investigates reports of unlawful acts by unions and employers, the first " accuses Warden Jim Cooke of holding mandatory meetings and threatening to fire any employees who signed union cards.  The second charge alleges that CCA called the police department when union organizers were handing out literature at the entrance of the staff parking lot.  Two other charges were filed with the NLRB by Couch: allegations that union practices were videotaped by CCA and than an employee was questioned about his union activities.  (Tulsa World)

March 25, 2001
A union organizer has leveled charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the private company that operates the Tulsa Jail, alleging that union practices were videotaped and that an employee was questioned about his union activities. The Correction Corporation Of America had no comment on the specific complaints, but denies that employees are being threatened with termination for involvement with the Peace Keepers and Security Officers Union, based in California. John Selph, chairman for Tulsa County Justice Authority, said that he is not surprised by union efforts at the jail. He said that information presented to him by Couch includes complaints that employees have expressed all along -- that they are being locked in housing pods with inmates and forced to work double shifts. These are the kinds of issues unions like to be involved in, he said. Union organizers have been passing out literature near the staff parking lot and that is when they say they were videotaped by CCA staff. (World Staff)

March 20, 2001
Corrections officers who work at the privately run Tulsa Jail not happy with their working environment and have asked union officials for help, organizers for the Peace Keepers and Security Officers Union say. Despite at least one call to the police, three union organizers handed out "Let's put it in writing" fliers to employees near the entrance to staff parking at the jail. The flier asks employees who work for the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America to sign and mail in authorization cards. CCA tells its employees that only the public information officer is allowed to talk to the press. Four employees had no comment when asked about the working environment at the jail, but a few spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they could be fired or that they feared the repercussions. Of course a union is needed at the jail, one employee said. "Nothing's changed. People are forced to work 16 hours at at time," the employees said. Another employees said that some jail workers have been worked up to 19 days consecutive days without a day off. (World Staff  Writer)

March 13, 2001
A former Corrections Corporation of America guard has been sentenced to a one-year jail term for assaulting an inmate. A Tulsa County jury convicted Lemuel Whiteside Jr., on Friday of assaulting and battering David Cooley with a dangerous weapon at the Tulsa Jail last year. He was accused of assaulting Cooley with a boot and a hand-held radio. (AP)

February 14, 2001
Privately run Corrections Corporation of America is considering a number of options -- including bringing in employees from its other facilities -- in an effort to reduce the number of costly overtime at the Tulsa Jail. Warden Jim Cooke said the biggest contributing factor to the overtime is the number of officers who don't show up for work or call in with flimsy excuses. "It's been a problem since this facility has opened, "Cooke said. "We need to work out some problems here and there. My goal is not to eliminate overtime but to cut it way, way down." In an effort to create adequate staffing, CCA is constantly training new corrections officers. A new class graduates next week, at which time another class will start up. But every time a class graduates, a number of people decide they don't want to do corrections work, CCA spokesman Marvin Branham said. Former CCA corrections officer Robert Nilson, who quit last year, said that the mandatory overtime pits employees against each other when some get to go home and other don't. He also said that supervisors were guilty of showing favoritism. Corrections Officer Keith Cruel, said his complaints about overtime and favoritism stem from the previous leadership at the jail. Tulsa county Contract Monitor Joe Masek said that CCA is actually short by 24 people and that the majority are corrections officer positions. Teresa Wright said she quit last week after CCA took her off day shift and put her on nights, which created a problem with child care. Wright said she was told there would be overtime. "But we weren't told we were going to be locked up like an inmate and not allowed to leave," she said. (Tulsa World)

January 31, 2001
A corrections officer has been terminated following a Saturday beating at the Tulsa Jail that investigators say may have been racially motivated. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Marvin Branham said that DeAndre Ingram was fired after the incident in which Brandon McKnight, 19, sustained severe trauma to his throat, face and head. Police say the beating nearly killed him. Branham confirmed that Ingram placed Joshua Mack Cudjoe, 24, who is black, in the same holding cell as McKnight, 19, who is white. A CCA corrections officer told a Tulsa police officer that she had warned a fellow corrections officer not to place Cudjoe in the same cell as McKnight because the two had previously argued while waiting in line for prebooking area. Witnesses told police that McKight referred to Cudjoe using obscene racial epithet. Cudjoe said there would be a fight if they were housed in the same cell and used a racial epithet toward McKnight, police said. During a Tuesday meeting in which no CCA representatives were present, committee member Bob Bruening said he had questions regarding arrest statistics and that his phone calls to the jail were never returned. (World Staff)

December 15, 2000
Jail employees responsible for approving release notices apparently failed to notice the date on the form and assumed that the inmate was to be released the day the order was received. (Tulsa World)

December 10, 2000
According to recent reports obtained by the Tulsa World, officers expressed safety concerns about the booking and pre-booking areas and complained of long delays in booking prisoners into the jail. Officers report that it often takes more than two hours to book a prisoner, especially on the weekends. They believe delays are caused because there are not enough CCA employees assigned to booking. A Nov. 18 report by Cpt. Dan Miller states a CCA booking supervisor told him that they were understaffed and that several members of the booking staff had been working 17 to 18 hours straight. "Inside the booking area, there were 25 officers waiting with prisoners," Officer Larry Kinney wrote in another report. "This is one-third of the officers on duty in the entire city on the first shift." Contract monitor Joe Masek said that CCA has not broken its contract regarding how quickly prisoners must be booked. The process is to be completed within 30 minutes, 75 percent of the time. Although the TPD books in the bulk of prisoners at the jail, other law enforcement agencies use the jail as well. He said deputies have found booking a prisoner 30 minutes to over two hours, depending of how busy the CCA is. (Tulsa World, Dec. 10, 2000)

December 2, 2000
Two Corrections officers were placed on paid leave after a federal inmate escaped Thursday morning from the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center. Raye Carnes, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Corporation of America said, "They both are being investigated for counting him in the dorm when he was not in the dorm. They counted the dummy in his cell." Thomas Lynn Weaver, 19, apparently had made a dummy using wadded-up clothing to pass for his body in his cell. "CCA's investigation into the escape has revealed that the inmate made his way into the kitchen by hiding inside a food cart that is brought to the pods during meals, Carnes said." "After the evening meal, he hid in the food cart back into the kitchen, he went form the food cart to the trash cart, Carnes said." When he was captured in downtown Tulsa he had a mask on and a shotgun loaded. (Tulsa World News, Dec. 2, 2000) 

August 11, 2000
Tulsa Police Department is critical of CCA's running the Tulsa Jail causing problems with investigations. (Corrections Professional, August 11, 2000)

July 15, 2000
One guard is fired and three others are disciplined for their connection with the release of a convicted killer who was caught after a cross -county manhunt. (Tulsa World, July 15, 2000)

July 11, 2000
A mistake leads to the release of an 18-year-old being held on murder charges. (AP, July 11, 2000)

Davis Correctional Facility 
Holdenville, Oklahoma
CCA
Aug 15, 2013 tulsaworld.com

HOLDENVILLE - A fight between inmates at the Davis Correctional Center last week resulted in two prisoners in hospitals and the prison being locked down. The Davis facility is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison contractor. It houses medium- and maximum-security male inmates for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. When corrections officers tried to break up the altercation Friday night, one of the inmates charged at an employee with a crude prison weapon commonly called a "lock in a sock," a DOC incident report states. Officers used pepper spray to subdue the prisoners, according to the report. The fight was between suspected members of the "Irish Mob" and "United Aryan Brotherhood" gangs, records indicate. Afterward, staff members searched the cells of the inmates involved and found numerous homemade metal weapons, other "lock in a sock" weapons and bloody clothing. Friday's fight follows a June 30 gang brawl that involved at least 20 prisoners fighting with handmade weapons at the same prison. Several prisoners were taken to hospitals then. The June fight involved members of the Indian Brotherhood and Crips gangs, according to incident reports. In March, CCA officials declined to call a four-hour disturbance at the Cushing prison they operate a riot, even though inmates smashed windows, breached security doors and were pepper-sprayed after they fashioned weapons from destroyed property, records show. CCA officials characterized the incident as "inmates being disruptive in one of the housing units." The inmates involved were prisoners of the Puerto Rican government that CCA supervised under contract.

January 5, 2013  NewsOK.com
HOLDENVILLE — A former private prison guard who admitted to engaging in oral sex with a male inmate in 2011 was sentenced to a year in prison Friday by a Hughes County district judge. Christopher Smith, 29, pleaded no contest to a single count of forcible sodomy, records show. The former jailer received a seven-year sentence from the judge, who suspended all but the first year. Smith will be placed on two years of state probation following his release and will have to register as a sex offender. His accuser, Kelly Demings, is serving a 12-year sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary in 2010. Smith and Demings gave conflicting reports as to what happened between the two men at the Davis Correctional Facility, a private prison in Holdenville that currently houses Oklahoma inmates. The facility, with a capacity of 1,620, is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also has prisons in Sayre and Watonga. Court records show Smith told investigators he “allowed” the inmate to perform oral sex on him inside a staff restroom on June 18, 2011. Demings, 42, told a state Corrections Department investigator during a July 27, 2011, interview that Smith used the “power of his position” to force him to perform oral sex, records show. Evidence saved: An affidavit filed in the case stated Deming preserved DNA evidence following the incident. Trisha Smith, an assistant district attorney for Hughes County, said this evidence was tested by investigators. “They came back a match to Mr. Smith,” the prosecutor said. A civil lawsuit, filed in federal court by Demings' attorneys, claims the DNA evidence belongs to Smith. Smith and Corrections Corporation of America are listed as defendants in the federal case. The inmate is claiming his civil rights were violated and he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment when Smith forced him to perform oral sex, according to the suit. The civil case is pending, records show, but a settlement conference has been ordered by the presiding judge. State job: Shortly before he was interviewed by James Parvin, an investigator for the state Corrections Department, Smith took a job as a prison guard at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary — the facility that houses death row. Parvin was assigned the case because Demings was under the purview of the Corrections Department at the time of the incident. Jerry Massie, spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said Smith was hired July 1, 2011, to work at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Smith was “discharged” from his job July 27, 2011, Massie said, the same day he was interviewed by Parvin in connection with the sexual assault case involving Demings.

March 28, 2012 AP
Authorities say two private prison employees were injured when force was used against an inmate after a brief altercation with staff members. Davis Correctional Facility spokesman Bryan Yandell said in an email Wednesday that the Holdenville prison was placed on lockdown after the incident occurred Tuesday in the inmate living area. Yandell says two prison employees who responded to the incident were hurt and treated for nonlife threatening injuries during the use of force. Yandell didn't specify the injuries or the type of force used, no were the names of the workers or the prisoner involved released. He says officials are reviewing what happened.

August 22, 2010 The Oklahoman
More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars. Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga. "There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business." If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said. The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit. Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve. The business of incarceration -- Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said. Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security. If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract. Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau. Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said. Earnings increase -- Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation. "We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities. In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years." GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well. This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there. Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space. Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees. Displaced inmates and jobs -- Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis. There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state -- the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s. "Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more." At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected. The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona. It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again. He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted. In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.

November 26, 2009 The Oklahoman
A former female correctional officer has been charged with three felony counts of second-degree rape after being accused of having sex with an inmate at a private prison in Holdenville. A warrant for the arrest of ex-correctional officer Michelle Kalinich was issued Nov. 6, but she had not been taken into custody Wednesday, a Hughes County sheriff’s employee said. It is against state law and considered rape for a correctional officer or jailer to have sex with an inmate, even if both are willing participants. Kalinich, 29, of Holdenville, also is accused of one felony count of conspiring to smuggle drugs into the prison for the benefit of the inmate, James Black, 21, of Enid. Black is serving a five-year sentence for second-degree burglary and concealing stolen property. The Corrections Department launched an internal affairs investigation into the relationship between Kalinich and Black in response to a June 8 request for assistance from Davis Correctional Facility officials, records show. Kalinich and Black initially denied any sexual contact "except for kissing,” but Kalinich later acknowledged having sex with the inmate on three occasions, internal affairs investigator Randy Knight said in a sworn affidavit used to justify the issuance of an arrest warrant. "Kalinich admitted she participated in sexual intercourse with Black ... ,” Knight wrote. Kalinich also admitted bringing seven ounces of marijuana, 30 Ecstasy pills and 36 pouches of tobacco into the prison for Black’s benefit, Knight reported. He said Kalinich received three money grams totaling $1,000, and acknowledged receiving an additional $1,000. Kalinich was terminated May 29, said Rebecca Adams, the warden’s secretary. Kalinich worked at the prison about eight months, Knight reported.

October 31, 2009 Oklahoman
Stephanie Sills knew nothing about Wewoka police officer Tony Wilbourn when he pulled her car over to arrest her during the early morning hours of July 19. Had she known more about him, she might have been concerned. At the time of Sills’ arrest, Wilbourn had only been employed by the department a few months and had not yet started police officer’s training at the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. Wilbourn, 27, was fired by Police Chief Greg Brooks 3½ weeks later for what the chief described as "poor judgment and tact” in dealing with female subjects. Brooks declined to elaborate on the dismissal. Wilbourn denied mistreating women. "I didn’t deal with female subjects in any way different than male subjects,” Wilbourn told The Oklahoman. A criminal records check shows Wilbourn has had a couple of brushes with the law. On July 21 — two days after Sills was arrested — Wilbourn was charged in Okfuskee County with misdemeanor assault and battery. The charge was dismissed about three months later "in the best interest of justice.” A sworn affidavit filed in connection with the case said an employee at Okemah’s Tipton’s Grocery filed a complaint alleging Wilbourn had thrown a ballpoint pen at him, striking him in the face. The employee alleged Wilbourn became angry after the worker tried to stop him from driving off without paying for gas. Wilbourn entered the store and signed a credit card receipt with a pen the employee had given him before throwing the pen at the man, the affidavit said. The investigator said Wilbourn "admits to getting angry and throwing the pen and hitting (the) victim with it.” Wilbourn told The Oklahoman he was off duty at the time and wasn’t trying to steal gasoline. Wilbourn said he usually pays at the pump and had just forgotten to pay. The former officer said he had driven just a few feet and stopped to look up something on his global positioning system when the worker knocked on his window and reminded him he needed to pay. "When I tossed the pen back, I tossed it over my shoulder,” he said. Assistant District Attorney Maxey Parker Reilly said she dismissed the charge because after talking to everybody, she didn’t believe the evidence would support it. "The way I understand it, he threw the pen down at the desk and it bounced up and hit the guy,” Reilly said. Seven years ago, before Wilbourn became a police officer, he served a deferred sentence on a misdemeanor charge of driving under suspension. "I was hurt on the job and unable to pay for a traffic ticket,” Wilbourn said. Wilbourn said he is now working for a private prison in Holdenville.

July 29, 2009 Tulsa World
Private prisons in Oklahoma soon could be housing maximum-security inmates from other states under a new law approved in the waning days of the 2009 legislative session. The language inserted into an omnibus corrections bill changes state policy that previously allowed only minimum- and medium-security inmates from other states to be housed in private prisons. House author Randy Terrill, R-Moore, defended the new law, saying this week that several safeguards were put in place, including a policy that allows the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to review and approve inmates and to ensure the facilities where they will be housed were designed to hold such offenders. But Judith Greene, director of the New York-based criminal justice research institute Justice Strategies, said similar policy changes in other states have had disastrous results. "I think it's a recipe for disaster," said Greene, who has analyzed criminal justice practices and private prisons for years. She said similar efforts by private prisons operating in Ohio and New Mexico in the 1990s resulted in excessive violence against guards and other inmates. "Mostly knifings and a couple of deaths," she said. "There very well should be some concerns (in Oklahoma)." But Terrill said the bill specifically prohibits maximum-security inmates with a history of escape, a felony conviction for rioting, sex offenders or those who have been sentenced to death. Texas, which has four private prisons housing out-of-state inmates, is one of the few states that allows maximum-security inmates. But inmates are screened to weed out anyone with a history of violence or other behavioral problems behind bars before they can be housed there, said Adan Munoz, director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. "We've got enough troublemakers in Texas," he said. Terrill inserted the language late in the session into a bill that authorized the Corrections Department to transfer illegal-immigrant inmates to federal authorities before they finished their sentences in Oklahoma. Terrill said the language surfaced late in the session because it involved intense negotiations among the governor's office, state House and Senate, Corrections Department, the private prison industry and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.

December 16, 2008 Tulsa World
Taking a tougher approach, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has withheld more than $589,000 in payments to private prison operators in the past year because of staffing shortages. Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has had five payments of $40,000 or more withheld since December for failing to fill vacancies within 45 days, including several positions in the medical field. In April, the state withheld $59,191 in payments because 19 positions remained unfilled within 45 days. Among them was a clinical supervisor slot that DOC officials said had been open for 457 days. The Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville also has had about $76,000 in payments withheld since August because of staffing incidents. Both facilities are owned by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville. A company official says it has had difficulty filling medical positions because of a nationwide shortage. In addition to the money it has already withheld, the DOC has another $50,000 in fines pending for November. The DOC has withheld payments to private prisons in 28 instances since last December for failing to fill positions in a timely manner. The department's decision to penalize private prisons financially for contract violations stems from a recommendation made in a performance audit of the Department of Corrections requested last year by the Oklahoma Legislature. "The audit felt like we were giving too many warnings to private prisons and that we needed to start doing more liquidated damages," DOC Director Justin Jones said last week. An official with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which sought information on the fines, said the organization is concerned whether private prison contractors are actually fixing the problems, or simply paying the fines. Mark Beutler, director of communications, said Monday that OPEA is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will make contractors more transparent. "We believe contractors should be held more accountable in reporting violations and also in the ways they are spending taxpayers' money," Beutler said. Calling the shortage of medical personnel a problem for prisons, Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen said the company is making a good faith effort to fill its medical services vacancies as quickly as possible. Until the positions are filled, Owen said the facilities will hire part-time employees or pay overtime to prevent a drop-off in services. "This is hitting us in the wallet, but it's not costing the taxpayer," Owen said. The state has about 4,540 inmates housed in three private prisons in the state. In addition to the CCA facilities in Cushing and Holdenville, the third private prison that contracts with DOC is the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Lawton facility has had about $23,000 in fines since last December, including about $10,000 that is pending for November. The facility is owned by the GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. The performance audit, which was released Dec. 31, 2007, said the enforcement of liquidated damages provisions in the state's contract with private prisons was extremely rare and time-consuming. "DOC's process is somewhat cumbersome in that it requires multiple levels of consideration by executive staffs," the audit report said. It called DOC's failure to use liquidated damages effectively "a serious problem with DOC's management process" that has eroded the credibility of the contract monitoring system. In the past, DOC has used more informal sanctions in response to contract breaches, which sometimes resulted in adjustments in a facility's population level. "As system crowding worsens, however, the flexibility to reduce population in response to problems diminishes significantly," the audit reported.

June 30, 2005 Oklahoman
Lockdown at the Davis Correctional Facility was lifted Tuesday, 10 days after concerns about racial tension among inmates triggered heightened security at the private prison. The lockdown was spurred by fistfights and "some mouth talking," said Steve Owen, spokesman for the Corrections Corporation of America, the company that owns the prison.

June 23, 2005 Oklahoman
A private prison has been locked down since Saturday amid heightened concerns statewide about racial tension among inmates.  The lockdown was spurred by individual fistfights and "some mouth talking," said Steve Owen, spokesman for the Corrections Corporation of America, the company that owns the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville. The largest incident recently was a riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, which is owned by Corrections Corporation. Seven inmates have been charged with murder in the stabbing death of inmate Adam Lippert, 32, and the Payne County district attorney said he plans to file murder charges against seven more inmates this week. As many as 65 prisoners in two gangs fought March 22 in a recreational area of the Cushing prison.

Diamondback Correctional Facility
Watonga, Oklahoma
CCA
August 22, 2010 The Oklahoman
More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars. Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga. "There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business." If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said. The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit. Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve. The business of incarceration -- Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said. Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security. If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract. Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau. Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said. Earnings increase -- Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation. "We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities. In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years." GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well. This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there. Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space. Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees. Displaced inmates and jobs -- Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis. There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state -- the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s. "Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more." At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected. The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona. It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again. He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted. In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.

May 29, 2010 Tulsa World
The closing of the 12-year-old Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga is a cautionary tale about what can happen when a community puts too many eggs in one basket, when a state becomes the penal colony to the nation and when an overabundance of private prisons is encouraged. Diamondback closed on Thursday, leaving 300 employees jobless unless they can find work at another facility. The city is losing the benefits of an $11 million prison payroll, the annual sale of $400,000 of water and sewer services to the facility, and sales tax revenues from purchases made by 2,000 inmates. The inmates are gone, most shipped back to Arizona, which no longer will house inmates in out-of-state facilities. Watonga has a population of 5,600 and a city budget of $2.4 million. The loss is devastating, even if it's temporary. Diamondback's owner, Correction Corp of America, claims that it hopes to reopen the facility. But will that happen? Every state has budget woes and is cutting back. Housing inmates in private prisons might be too pricey an option. The private prison proliferation here began under Gov. Frank Keating in the 1990s. It was a "Field of Dreams" philosophy: Build it and they will come. And, inmates did, shipped by the thousands to new private prisons. Oklahoma itself houses some of its own inmates in private prisons and there's been an unrelenting push by some legislators to use private prisons even more rather than reforming this state's sentencing system. Private prisons are a double-edged sword. They put people to work in small towns but they don't always last forever. And inmates seldom receive the programming they need to break addictions or the retraining for new jobs on the outside. Like it or not, for-profit prisons are more about warehousing and less about rehabilitation. And states pay a pretty penny for housing their overflow inmates in private facilities. We hope for Watonga's sake that Diamondback reopens. In the meantime, this is a lose-lose situation all the way around.

May 28, 2010 Oklahoman
Count this city as one of the only in the world that wants its criminals back. Not back on the streets, but back in the private prison that until Thursday was Watonga's biggest employer. The Diamondback Correctional Facility shipped its last prisoners away Thursday and shut down, leaving a hole in the city economy and more than 300 corrections workers jobless or transferred to private prisons elsewhere. "It hurts,” Mayor Dale Green said. The prison housed about 2,000 inmates from Arizona, but officials there recently opted not to renew contracts with out-of-state prisons housing Arizona prisoners, Diamondback spokeswoman Sandy Clark said. "It was a budget decision,” Clark said. "They had some new beds there, and so they chose to utilize those rather than keep these inmates out of state.” The prison's owner, Corrections Corp. of America, has been searching for a new client for the Diamondback Correctional Facility, which has been open since 1998 and had a payroll of about $11 million, Clark said. "We are going to continue to actively market that facility,” said Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America. "They've done an outstanding, professional job under all the contracts we've worked with in the past.” Green said: "Hopefully, in the next six months, we can get some new prisoners in there.” Some former Diamondback workers have transferred to other Corrections Corp. of America prisons, some in Oklahoma. Others, such as Clark, worked their last day Thursday. "I'm from here, so I'm not moving,” Clark said. "We're hoping to secure a contract, so I'm just going to wait and see what happens, and hopefully, we'll be back to work soon.” Green said the prison bought about $400,000 of water and sewer services from Watonga, which has a population of about 5,600 and a city budget of about $2.4 million next fiscal year. The Watonga Chamber of Commerce is bracing for a hit to the city's economy. "It's going to have an effect on our housing market and just our total population count,” said Mary Larson, the chamber's administrative director. "It's hard to figure the trickle down. The employees who lose their income will have less spending dollars, which will affect the sales tax in the community. It's going to be a bit of a snowball.” Sales taxes on prisoner commissary purchases in the prison will also be lost, Larson said. But city officials remain confident that prisoners will return to help keep the city's economy afloat. "Unfortunately, that's not something that goes away, is the need to house prisoners,” Larson said.

March 13, 2010 Enid News and Eagle
The closing of a business and the resulting loss of jobs is never good news, but when it affects more than 300 people, that is serious. Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga will shut its doors within the next 60 days. The private prison’s more than 300 employees will either be out of work or will try to transfer to other Corrections Corporation of America facilities in other cities. Either way, the closing will be a real blow to Watonga’s economy. CCA says it is closing the prison because all of the inmates at Diamondback are from Arizona, and facilities will soon become available there to house the inmates.

March 4, 2010 Enid News and Eagle
Diamondback Correction Facility in Watonga is closing within the next 60 days, due to Arizona ending its private prison contract. Corrections Corporation of America, owner of Diamondback, issued 60-day termination notices to all employees at Diamondback this week in anticipation of closing the facility, which is timed with the departure of the Arizona inmates housed there. Diamondback has more than 300 employees. The payroll of the facility is around $11 million annually. The facility has a capacity of 2,160. The contract is set to expire April 30. Diamondback has been operating in Watonga since November 1998.

January 21, 2010 Corrections Corporation of America
CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) (NYSE: CXW), the nation's largest partnership corrections provider to government agencies, announced today that the proposed budgets by the Arizona Governor and Legislature, released on January 15, 2010, would phase out the utilization of private out-of-state beds. CCA currently has management contracts with Arizona at its 752-bed Huerfano County Correctional Center in Walsenburg, Colorado and at its 2,160-bed Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Oklahoma. The proposed phase-out of utilizing out-of-state beds is based on Arizona's budget crisis and its desire to utilize additional in-state capacity that will come on-line in 2010. As a result of the budget proposals, there is a significant risk that CCA will lose the opportunity to house offenders from Arizona at its Huerfano and Diamondback facilities during 2010. Our contract with Arizona at Huerfano expires on March 8, 2010, and our contract at Diamondback expires on May 1, 2010. In the event that Arizona should not renew one or both of these contracts, CCA will work with Arizona officials related to the timing of any phase-out of Arizona inmate populations. We would anticipate that such populations would be transferred out within 30 to 60 days following expiration of each management contract. If Arizona removes its offender populations housed at these facilities, CCA will likely close both facilities. During 2009, CCA generated approximately $56.5 million in revenues from both of these contracts.

July 18, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
An investigation into sex assaults involving Hawai'i and other female inmates at a private Kentucky prison has widened and now includes 19 alleged attacks over the past three years. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner is representing three Hawai'i women who allege they were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek Correctional Center within the past 12 to 18 months. The most recent sex assault was reported June 23 and allegedly involved a male corrections officer. Meanwhile, Kentucky officials say they have launched an investigation into 16 alleged sex assaults at Otter Creek involving Kentucky women. Some of the allegations date back to 2006. Breiner said he expects more allegations of sex assault involving Hawai'i women to surface during investigations under way by the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, which sent a team to Otter Creek last week to speak to female inmates from the Islands and look into the allegations. The developments are spurring new discussions about whether the state should end its contract with Otter Creek and bring the 165 Hawai'i women at the privately operated prison back to Hawai'i. State Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), said he will hold a public hearing in August on the assault allegations, during which he plans to call on state officials to halt the practice of shipping Hawai'i female inmates to the Mainland. "This might be a good opportunity for (Public Safety Director) Clayton Frank to show some leadership and ... bring the women home," Espero said, adding that he also believes more assault allegations will come to light in the coming months. "We might have heard ... the tip of the iceberg." Tommy Johnson, deputy director of DPS, would not say how many allegations the state is investigating because the cases are ongoing. But he said he was at Otter Creek all last week to speak to Hawai'i women in groups and to talk to some in one-on-one sessions. He also toured the facility and looked at its "operational security." He would not discuss what the Hawai'i female inmates told him in the sessions, saying that "it would be premature and inappropriate to do so." Otter Creek, in Wheelwright, Ky., is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A spokesman for the company said it is conducting its own investigation into the assault allegations. Hawai'i has had a contract to house female inmates at Otter Creek since October 2005. Breiner said the three Hawai'i women at the prison whom he represents allege they were sexually assaulted within the past 18 months. The most recent assault was reported on June 23, and is under investigation by Kentucky state police, who said it involved a male corrections officer. Kentucky state police spokesman Mike Goble said a detective investigating the June 23 sex assault was also informed of other assault allegations. It's unclear whether those assaults involved Hawai'i women, and Goble said police have not yet decided how to proceed on those allegations. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating allegations that 16 Kentucky women were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek as far back as 2006. Spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said the allegations relate to incidents over the past three years. In a statement, she said some of the allegations were previously reported but are being reinvestigated. She also said the department is sharing information with Hawai'i officials and the CCA. Allegations of sexual misconduct involving corrections workers and Hawai'i inmates have surfaced before at Otter Creek and in other private prisons, including in Oklahoma in 2000 and Colorado in 2005. In 2007, a Hawai'i inmate at Otter Creek alleged a corrections officer came to her room and demanded she perform sex acts. The officer was convicted on a misdemeanor. Following the incident, Otter Creek prison officials said they would change their procedures to require that a female correctional officer be paired with a male officer in housing units. Breiner, the Honolulu attorney, said that from his discussions with Hawai'i inmates it doesn't appear that's happening at Otter Creek. He said there are not enough female corrections officers at Otter Creek. He also said that in the wake of the publicity following the allegations, some Hawai'i inmates have expressed concerns about retaliation and he said he's worried about the safety of his clients. The cost of exporting Hawai'i inmates is cheaper than building new facilities or expanding existing ones, but advocates have long criticized the practice because of its impact on families. They point out that many female inmates have kids who suffer during the separation.

September 17, 2007 KITV 4
Another lawsuit has been filed against the mainland prison corporation that houses thousands of Hawaii inmates. This lawsuit claimed the company knowingly hired sexual predators as guards to torment inmates. Convicted car thief Nelson Abiley said he was subjected to repeated homosexual sexual harassment and battery at the Diamondback Prison in Oklahoma. He said Corrections Corp. of America did not respond to his complaints. CCA had a history of hiring predatory homosexuals in order to control inmates, according to the lawsuit. The company has been sued in several cases recently in which inmates beat other inmates.

March 6, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Monitoring reports by state prison officials describe gang violence, drug dealing and other problems at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Oklahoma where hundreds of Hawai'i inmates are being held. The situation was so bad that Department of Public Safety officials who visited the privately run prison in September recommended that nearly 800 Hawai'i convicts be removed unless conditions improve. State officials and representatives of prison operator Corrections Corp. of America said last week the situation at Diamondback has improved in recent months, but the critical monitoring reports provide further evidence of troubles with Hawai'i's practice of shipping inmates to Mainland facilities. Just last week, the head of the GRW Corp., which owns the Brush Correctional Facility near Denver, Colo., appeared in Honolulu at the request of state officials to explain sexual misconduct allegations made against prison staff by two Hawai'i women and six other female inmates. The two Hawai'i inmates have been returned to the Islands, and a corrections officers in Colorado has been charged with a felony in the case. In Oklahoma, state monitors' reports from 2003 and 2004 indicate increasing concern about conditions at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, including drug dealing by gangs, inmate attacks on corrections officers and other inmates, and rising tensions in the prison. The portions of the reports that were released describe inexperienced line staff and supervisors struggling to cope with gang members, including some whom the monitors' believed should have been transferred to prisons designated for more dangerous inmates. The monitors also criticized prolonged use of administrative segregation. The state's contract with CCA requires that disciplinary segregation not exceed 60 days, but Shimoda said some inmates were left in administrative segregation for a year or more. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company did not receive copies of the Oct. 22 monitors' report until mid-December. He said the company provided a written response to state officials on Jan. 20 that outlined what it is doing about the problems. Owen declined to release the details of the CCA response, saying that information should come from Hawai'i prison officials. The Department of Public Safety did not answer an Advertiser request last week for a copy of the company's Jan. 20 response. The monitors' reports from 2003 and 2004 show that Hawai'i officials were alarmed about operations at the Oklahoma prison for at least 18 months. Problems cited included alarm that female corrections officers were "falling in love" with Hawai'i inmates, and smuggling drugs into the prison for them. The chief of security at Diamondback told Hawai'i monitors in June 2003 that prison staff believed 2 ounces of crystal methamphetamine were being smuggled into the prison each week. In April 2003, more than one out of every four inmates who underwent drug testing came up positive for drug use, according to the Oct. 17, 2003, report. That same report said six corrections workers had been fired for "inappropriate relationships" with inmates and activity related to drug use within the prison. Monitors' reports also indicated 30 to 40 Hawai'i inmates were involved in a disturbance in one of the prison modules on July 20, 2003. A far more serious disturbance broke out last May 14 when 500 inmates from Arizona rioted for several hours, demolishing fences and battling one another with construction equipment and other improvised weapons. About 100 inmates were injured. An investigation by Arizona corrections officials found that inadequate staffing at Diamondback made it difficult to prevent the disturbance, and Arizona reduced the number of its inmates there from about 1,200 to about 750.

February 9, 2005 KOTV
Hawaii inmates at an Oklahoma prison plan will get to celebrate an ancient Hawaiian festival this weekend. About 100 men at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga plan to mark Makahiki with chanting, hula, a cleansing ritual and a feast with laulau, fish and poi. Makahiki was an annual period of peace celebrated in ancient Hawaii with sports and religious activities. The festival also honors Lono, the Hawaiian god of agriculture, peace and fertility. The Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Oklahoma prison, refused to allow the inmates to hold the event two years ago, but a 2003 lawsuit challenged that decision. Attorneys for all sides have met to discuss a possible settlement.

October 27, 2004 KTOK
The company which runs a private prison in Watonga is slapped with more than a dozen lawsuits stemming from a riot at the prison earlier this year.

August 8, 2004
On May 14, more than 500 Arizona inmates rioted at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Okla., a private prison where more than 1,200 Arizona inmates were being housed because of overcrowding at state facilities. Inmates fought with recreational and construction equipment and broke through fences and other barriers. The disturbance lasted several hours and dozens of inmates were injured, including two who were hospitalized for weeks. In response, the state is bringing one-third of the inmates at the facility back to Arizona because of concerns about management by Corrections Corporation of America.  The debate over private prisons took prominence during last year's special legislative session, when the state Legislature approved the construction of 1,000 private and 1,000 public beds (now in planning), as well as the temporary lease of out-of-state private prison space. The state currently contracts for about 4,400 beds in private prisons.  Republic reporter Amanda J. Crawford sat down with Arizona Department of Corrections Director Dora Schriro to discuss the riot and other private-prison issues.  QUESTION: What happened to start the riot? ANSWER: There was a precipitating event the day before and that confrontation was not managed adequately. It simmered and then boiled over the next day.  Q: This was a riot that was caused by racial conflicts, right? A: In my opinion, no. It was caused by poor management of the population by the facility. That there was disagreement between inmates in different racial groups is a challenge we always face in the department. But it was the reading of those symptoms and the management of those populations that allowed this thing to kick off and continue.  Q: What do you think the prison's management did wrong?  A: Before the actual melee, there were a number of warning signs that they should have picked up on.  Their staffing was off; they purported to have the correct number of staff but in fact they were double-counting people.  During the situation, there were other problems, not the least of which was failure to provide timely notice to our monitors. Also, they never activated their emergency response - that clearly impacted their ability to contain and then to quell the disturbance. And their supervisors were inadequate . . . in terms of not having the skill to give direction to staff to get the matter under control.  Afterwards, our concerns continued about the inadequacy of the investigation. We got there more than a day ahead of their own team. I was concerned about the way in which the medical assessment was done. But I think most vexing of all is that it was then and, to some extent, continues to be difficult to obtain timely and reliable information.  Q: What actions have you decided to take?  A: I think most significantly thus far was our conclusion very early on that the facility was unable to manage all of the inmates we had sent to them, all of whom are low-medium and medium security inmates only.  It was our determination that we would pull out any of the Level 2 inmates who were not involved in that disturbance. We have been returning inmates in small groups on a weekly basis. Thus far we have transferred back about 300 inmates. In the end we will bring back a total of about 400.  There are other decisions, significant, that are still pending. A great concern to us still is that their corrective action plan is not yet fully implemented and as a result there is a modified lockdown of considerable magnitude that is still in effect today.  Q: Based on this event and incidents at some other of their facilities recently, will you continue to contract with CCA?  A: That remains to be seen. We are at a critical juncture now.   Q: What is the status of the public expansion approved by the Legislature last year?  A: We also had approval to expand state facilities by a total of 1,000 beds. These are going to be Level 1 beds, which is really important for us because it is the first time the department has built minimum-security beds. By building the cheapest beds, which are also the fastest to build, not only do we increase our capacity with the least expenditure, we then move Level 1 inmates to Level 1 beds that automatically frees up more space for Level 2 inmates, where we are still short on space. What we are doing is expanding Perryville, Tucson and Douglas. Our construction will be done this November, and we will begin moving in inmates in December.  (Arizona Republic)

July 30, 2004
Corrections settlement: Watonga expects little fallout WATONGA - A $250,000 settlement on inmate telephone revenue shouldn't change the number of inmates at Diamondback Correctional Facility. Watonga and Corrections Corporation of America officials recently settled a lawsuit the city filed seeking a portion of the revenue from inmate phone calls at the prison.  (The Oklahoman)

July 8, 2004
A May 14 riot at the private Diamondback Correctional Facility raged for more than four hours, much longer than previously stated, a recently released report asserts.  Inmates pushed down fences, used shower rods as battering rams and smashed windows with boards and rubble found among construction materials left in a recreation yard, according to a report by the Arizona Department of Corrections.  Arizona had 1,199 inmates at the prison. The fight involved about 360 Arizona inmates and was limited to their section, which also holds 783 Hawaii inmates, the report states. The prison holds no Oklahoma inmates.  Now Arizona is retrieving 330 inmates about two months earlier than planned because of safety concerns.  The report includes numerous criticisms of the warden and staff, as well as the prison owner, Corrections Corporation of America.  (News Ok)

July 3, 2004
Citing security concerns following a riot at an Oklahoma facility, Arizona is curtailing its transfer of inmates to private, out-of-state prisons.  A first group of 30 prisoners was returned to Arizona and arrived Thursday at the Arizona State Prison Complex here.  Another 300 inmates will be moved back to Arizona by August, prison officials said Friday.  The Arizona Department of Corrections is bringing home low-custody-level inmates who were not involved in the May 14 disturbance at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Okla.  More than 400 inmates reportedly fought with baseball bats, fire extinguishers and boards. Two inmates were critically injured.  (AP)

May 16, 2004
Two prisoners were seriously injured and 40 others were hurt after a brawl among inmates from Arizona broke out in a recreation yard of a private prison Friday night. The prison remained on lockdown Saturday as officials at the Diamondback Correctional Facility investigated the incident. The fight started at about 8:15 p.m. Friday among inmates from Arizona. The Diamondback Correctional Facility houses about 2,050 prisoners from Arizona and Hawaii. Arizona inmates account for 1,199 of the inmates. (AP)

June 17, 2003
Officials here aren't sure what kind of economic effect the indefinite closure of a private prison will have on the town's economy.  Corrections Corporation of America on Friday announced that it planned to consolidate its Sayre operations with the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga.  The 225 employees at North Fork received a written, 60-day notice of their termination before the public announcement was made after the stock market closed Friday.  The Watonga facility has 2,160 beds and is a medium-security prison.  Officials cited the long-distance telephone rates of the prison's 989 inmates contracted from Wisconsin as one of the reasons for the closure.  "Inmates' families were getting these outrageous telephone bills," said Bill Clausius, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. "CCA has a contract with us that is not facility-specific, but in that contract we have certain requirements about phone rates.  "We had spoken with CCA about this on several occasions, but nothing was ever done concerning their vendors. So they've decided to move the inmates to another facility."  Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman, confirmed his company's contractual obligations with the state of Wisconsin is to provide reasonable long-distance phone rates for its inmates.  "I can't quote you those rates (in Sayre) off the top of my head, but they were substantially higher than our contract permits," Owen said.  In Wisconsin, prisons must use telephone vendors who charge no more than $1.25 for each call and 22 cents for each additional minute, Clausius said. He didn't know what SBC Communications had been charging the prison in Sayre, but he said it was well above Wisconsin's contract requirements.  CCA officials said they will work to identify other opportunities to reopen North Fork and bring staff and operations back to the Sayre facility.  (AP)

December 27, 2001
Prosecutors filed charges Thursday against four men accused of plotting to rob and possibly kill an Enid doctor.   Dustin Cox, 21, Corey Best, 20, and Chris Pembrook, 21, made their first court appearances on attempted grand larceny and conspiracy charges.   Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Jami Cox, 24, brother of Dustin Cox.   Garfield County Sheriff Bill Winchester said more people could be involved in a burglary ring that spawned the plot.   The three were arrested Saturday after an attempt to steal an automated teller machine from the Bank of Kremlin in Drummond.   According to an affidavit, an informant told a Garfield County sheriff's investigator that the four men were planning to rob Dr. Ross Vanhooser because they had heard he had $2 million in a safe in his house and that they would kill him if necessary. Pembrook, who had worked at Watonga's private prison since Oct. 15, was fired Tuesday, Assistant Warden Jim Keith said. Winchester said Pembrook was a prison guard. (AP)

August 15, 1999
A disturbance started when correctional officers attempted to stop two inmates from climbing a fence separating two recreation areas. 25 inmates went on a rampage, and $400,000 in damage from fire, smoke, and water resulted from 12 separate fires that were set.

Dominion Correctional Services
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
December 31, 2005 Journal Sentinel
Lobbyist Bill Broydrick testified in 2002 about how Chuck Chvala, the former Senate majority leader, solicited lobbyists and their clients for contributions. With Chvala scheduled to begin a nine-month jail sentence on Feb. 13 after pleading guilty to two felony corruption charges, Broydrick was recently shown a summary of his then-secret 2002 testimony about how the former Senate majority leader solicited lobbyists and their clients for contributions. Prosecutors say another group that got what it wanted was Dominion Asset Services, which built a prison in Stanley that it was trying to sell to the state. Dominion officials wrote one check for $50,000 on June 1, 2001, and another for $75,000 on July 1, 2001, to Independent Citizens for Democracy-Issues Inc., court records show. ICD-Issues was the group Chvala set up to get "soft money" donations from corporations - companies barred by state law from giving directly to state candidates and their campaign committees. On July 25, 2001, Chvala and Republicans brokered a final budget that included $79.9 million to buy the Stanley prison. Assembly Republicans long supported the purchase of the Stanley prison, but they were unable to get the deal through the Legislature because of Chvala's opposition to the deal. "And then, suddenly and surprisingly, he allowed it to go through," said Rep. Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield), who was speaker of the Assembly at the time. Dominion built the prison even though state law bars private companies from operating prisons. The state could have used the law to negotiate a lower price because only the state and federal governments could buy the facility, critics said at the time. Jensen defended the purchase decision, saying it helped move prisoners held out of state closer to their families while creating jobs in Stanley, near Eau Claire. Around that time, Dominion employees gave $500 to Jensen and $500 to Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah), who offered the budget amendment to purchase the prison. Employees also gave $4,000 to then-Gov. Scott McCallum, a Republican, and $9,600 to Senate Democrats. After the state bought the prison, it delayed its opening for almost a year, after the state determined it would cost more to run the state facility than to keep inmates in out-of-state facilities.

January 01, 2001
Top state democratic Party officials said Wednesday that because of  "new revelations," they will ask for state and federal investigations into some $240,000 in cash gifts to Gov. Frank Keating. Meanwhile, it was learned Wednesday that a meeting Keating set up between his benefactor Jack Dryfus and Department of Corrections director James Saffle was not the first the governor had arranged so the wealthy financier could make a pitch for the drug Dilantin to state prison officials. Dryfus considers Dilantin  a wonder drug and wanted it used on prison inmates. Keating arranged for him to meet with federal prison officials when Keating was an official in the Reagan administration. Saffle has said that he met with Dryfus at Keating's request. But he said never acted on Dryfus' proposal. Larry fields who proceeded Saffle as director and who was forced out of office by Keating, confirmed Wednesday that he also met with Dryfus at Keating's request. Fields, who is now an officer in a private  prison corporation, said the initial meeting took place in the governor's office at the Capitol. "Keating was just there at the start," Fields said. "He introduced us, and then he left to go to another meeting." Fields said he was attending a meeting in New York City. Fields was corrections director from 1993 to 1997. Although he had a good reputation and generally was well-liked by lawmakers, he ultimately resigned as director under pressure from Keating. Fields is now President of Dominion Correctional Services. (Tulsa World)

Grady County Jail
Grady, Oklahoma
Civigenics, Cornell, Emerald

September 2, 2003
Grady County’s jail construction fiasco is disgraceful, but not prosecutable, a grand jury declared Friday.  The panel offered sharp criticism — but no indictments — of current and former county officials and the Missouri jail architect who promoted the use of revenue bonds to build the jail.  Architect Lawrence Goldberg presented an “inaccurate and overly opportunistic” feasibility study based on revenue projections “that did not exist or were unrealistic,” the grand jury’s 16-page report reads.  The report says the grand jury was committed to investigating possible criminal wrongdoing and “to address the culprit” if any was found.  While the 12 grand jurors uncovered nothing criminal, they did find that a “lack of attention to detail, lack of attention to overall project plans, the lack of leadership and the lack of a sound business plan” led to the county’s current financial crisis.  The Grady County Industrial Authority issued $12.65 million in 30-year revenue bonds in 1999 for construction of a four-story, 190-bed jail and a 62-bed work release center for low-security prisoners.  Goldberg’s construction cost estimate was too low, and his revenue projections for the jail were far higher than the county realized. That prompted the industrial authority to issue another $4.9 million in revenue bonds in 2001.  Even with the extra money, the jail wasn’t finished as designed. The fourth floor, designed to hold contract prisoners, has no cells. It is being used for storage. Prisoners intended to be housed there instead are kept at the old county jail, which the state jail inspector wants to close.  The jail’s financial woes might force the county to turn over possession to a private prison company. Under that arrangement, the county would lease beds and hope to get a reduced rate. The private vendor would pay the bond debt.  (The Oklahoman)

July 16, 2003
An Oklahoma grand jury will launch a criminal investigation of a Grady County jail project financed with two revenue bond issues worth over $16 million after voters rejected a sales tax to service the debt three times, according to the district attorney.  The investigation centers on the original revenue projections used to sell the project to the Grady County Industrial Authority, a nonprofit issuer that leases the jail to another public entity called the Grady County Justice Authority. The Grady County Sheriff's Office runs the jail under a letter agreement with the Justice Authority.  District attorney Robert E. "Gene" Christian said he expects to impanel the grand jury the end of this month to investigate the source of revenue projections, which states that inmate per diem fees would be adequate to cover the debt service and jail operations. Completed six months ago, the jail is not generating enough revenue to cover the debt service, though it appears a default on the bonds can be avoided, officials said. The next payment is due in November.  In addition to the investigation of criminal charges, Oklahoma grand juries can recommend the ouster of public officials, said Bret Burns, assistant district attorney in Grady County.  "The revenue that was promised has not materialized and is not nearly enough to pay for the bonds," Christian said. "If the original figures were not accurate, then who made the misrepresentation? I think the voters want to know that."  Jail architect Lawrence Goldberg said last week that he had a role in the projections but insisted the revenues would have been adequate to service the debt before the economy weakened. Goldberg said the state began housing fewer inmates in county jails due to budget constraints, reducing the jail's income in per diem fees.  Goldberg also blamed political infighting in the county for problems that forced a second bond issue after the first $12.6 million of revenue bonds appeared inadequate to complete the project. The first bond issue was insured by MBIA Insurance Corp., while the second issue carried no insurance.  Since a report about the Grady County jail's problems appeared in The Bond Buyer last week, Goldberg said he has lost funding for a potential jail deal in Logan County. That project was expected to be underwritten by Kirkpatrick Pettis, but Goldberg yesterday said bankers from that firm say their investors have pulled out of the deal.  Officials from Kirkpatrick Pettis were not available for comment before press time yesterday.  Current Grady County Sheriff Kieran McMullen, who has been in charge of the jail less than four months, called the web of jail contracts for Grady County "one of the most bizarre arrangements I've ever seen," adding that the original figures used to build the project "totally unrealistic."  An official with Little Rock-based American Municipal Securities in Little Rock, which underwrote the second bond deal, declined comment but indicated that a solution is in the works. The underwriter for the first bond deal, Miller & Schroeder Financial Inc., has since gone out of business.  Mike Haider, contracts specialist for the justice authority, said the revenue estimates were obviously incorrect from the outset.  "Some of the figures they used in their proposals were totally false," he said. "They were counting on $85 per day for a federal bed. Back during the time when everything was being planned, a bed for a federal inmate was going for $38 to $40 per day. Where they got their numbers, I don't know. I've worked in the private prison industry for 12 years and I've never seen per diems that high."  County officials were scheduled to meet with MBIA officials last night to discuss options for avoiding a default.  (The Bond Buyer)

July 15, 2003
Three private prison companies have expressed interest in leasing Grady County's financially troubled jail, the county's jail authority learned Monday night.  It was the authority's first meeting since voters overwhelmingly rejected a sales tax proposal aimed at keeping the county from defaulting on revenue bonds used to build the jail.  Sheriff Kieran McMullen, a member of the jail authority, told other members his office has been in contact with Civigenics of Marlborough, Mass.; Emerald Correctional Services of Shreveport, La.; and Cornell Corrections of Houston, which runs an 812-bed private prison at Hinton.  Authority members picked a two- man committee to look at alternatives, including a lease agreement.  "I think it needs to be a fast turnaround," McMullen said.  The Grady County Jail, which opened in November, was built much larger than needed on the idea that the county would make its monthly revenue bond payments through contracts to house state and federal inmates.  The county's jail and minimum-security annex can hold 330 prisoners. The current population is just fewer than 300, which includes 95 inmates from Oklahoma County waiting to be transferred to prison, at $24 a day per inmate, and 62 state inmates on contract with the state Corrections Department, at $31 a day.  While the county is making about $126,000 a month from those contracts, it's not nearly enough to pay the $117,000-a- month bond payments plus $100,000 a month in payroll and $65,000 a month in other operating expenses, McMullen said.  The original bond issue was for $12.65 million. When design and construction problems arose, a second bond issue for $4.9 million was necessary.  The county's industrial authority, which issued the revenue bonds, is in danger of defaulting. The county has $368,000 to make its bond payment due Nov. 1, but after that the future is cloudy.  (The Oklahoman)

Great Plains Correctional Facility
Hinton, Oklahoma
GEO Group (bought Cornell)
September 1, 2010 Phoenix New Times
An Arizona prison inmate, being housed in a private prison in Hinton, Oklahoma, is dead after apparently taking the easy way out, rather than completing his sentence. Officials at the Arizona Department of Corrections tell New Times inmate Patrick Ross was found dead in his cell around 7:50 a.m. yesterday. Responding Medical teams tried to revive Ross but were unsuccessful. DOC officials wouldn't say how Ross killed himself only saying he died "after apparently committing suicide." Ross was serving a 13-year sentence -- at a private prison run by Cornell Companies -- for an armed robbery he committed in Maricopa County. Ross began his sentence in December 2009 and ended it -- apparently on his own terms -- yesterday. DOC is investigating the death.

August 22, 2010 The Oklahoman
More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars. Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga. "There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business." If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said. The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit. Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve. The business of incarceration -- Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said. Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security. If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract. Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau. Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said. Earnings increase -- Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation. "We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities. In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years." GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well. This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there. Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space. Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees. Displaced inmates and jobs -- Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis. There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state -- the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s. "Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more." At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected. The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona. It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again. He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted. In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.

August 11, 2010 Tulsa World
Arizona is pulling more than 1,700 of its inmates from the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. Arizona has recently added 4,000 beds to its existing prisons to increase capacity, Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson said Tuesday. In addition, the state's contract for space at Great Plains is nearing an end, he said. The Great Plains private prison is owned by the Hinton Economic Development Authority and operated by Houston-based Cornell Cos. Cornell Cos. was previously in the process of merging with GEO, based in Boca Raton, Fla. GEO operates the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Arizona inmates are expected to be removed in the coming months, said Charles Seigel, Cornell Cos. spokesman. The company has known for several months that Arizona was considering the move, he said. The Great Plains Correctional Facility has 272 employees with an annual payroll of $9.1 million. "We are going to be without inmates for the moment," Seigel said. "We are working to try to find another customer to use it." Until then, employees will be laid off, he said. Hinton has a population of just under 3,000, said Dave Flezickey, a Hinton Economic Development Authority spokesman. The prison is one of the town's largest employers. Cornell and Corrections Corporation of America have told the Federal Bureau of Prisons that they are interested in housing criminal illegal aliens at Great Plains and three other private prisons in the state. The inmates would be low-security males who are predominantly Mexican citizens with one year or less left to serve. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections does not have the funds to contract to house state inmates at the two Oklahoma private prisons from which Arizona has removed inmates, said DOC Director Justin Jones. Arizona also removed inmates from Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga this spring. "Obviously, I would not rule it out, but that decision will have to be made through the legislative process," Jones said. He said the private prison industry is a speculative market. "It is not immune to recession and trends in sentencing and crime," Jones said. "A lot of states have gone back and applied research to their sentencing practices, which results in sentences that are more evidence-based, and that obviously affects a market that relies upon incarceration."

August 6, 2010 Market Watch
Cornell Companies, Inc. announced today that it has received notification from the Arizona Department of Corrections of its election not to renew its contract at Cornell's 2,048 bed Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton, Oklahoma, which is scheduled to expire on September 12, 2010. The Company will be working with Arizona in the coming days to determine the schedule for the transfer of inmates, which the Company expects to complete in 2010. As a result of this notification, Cornell intends to continue marketing the facility to other customers. Cornell's previous 2010 guidance assumed that the Arizona DOC would maintain its use of the Great Plains facility at its present level through the end of the year. In May 2010, Cornell reported that the ultimate resolution of Arizona's usage of the facility would likely depend on the timing of Arizona's budget process and may not occur until the third quarter of 2010. In light of the contract termination, Cornell is withdrawing its prior annual financial guidance.

February 26, 2010 AP
Cornell Cos. Inc.'s sales and profit will decline if the state of Arizona removes inmates from the company's Oklahoma prison, an analyst said as he downgraded the prison operator's shares. First Analysis Securities analyst Todd Van Fleet downgraded the Houston company to "equal weight" from "overweight." The January budget proposals from Arizona's governor and legislature would phase out the use of private out-of-state beds. Arizona is struggling to close budget shortfalls. Van Fleet said there was less than a 25 percent chance that Cornell would be able to persuade legislators to keep Arizona inmates in the company's Oklahoma prison. The loss of the Arizona prisoners which could cut into Cornell's annual earnings by 35 cents to 45 cents per share. Van Fleet cut his estimate for 2010 profit to $1.09 per share from $1.69 per share, and his 2010 sales estimate to $398 million from $440.6 million. On Wednesday, when it released fourth-quarter earnings, Cornell predicted it would make $1.31 to $1.41 per share in 2010. The guidance assumed that Cornell would continue to keep all its Arizona inmates for the rest of the year. The contract for the Arizona prisoners ends in mid-September, Van Fleet said. Cornell shares slipped 13 cents to $18.61 in midday trading. They have dropped about 25 percent since Arizona proposed its budget in mid-January.

October 9, 2007 The Oklahoman
A convicted murderer who kidnapped and assaulted two woman after his January escape from a private prison told investigators he has been rattling the prison fences for five years to see whether any guards would respond. None ever did, convicted murderer Charles McDaniels told investigators, according to a report by the state Department of Corrections' Office of Internal Affairs. McDaniels and another inmate, Tony Ellison, cut through a Great Plains Correctional Facility fence with wire cutters on Jan. 22, kidnapped a Hinton woman and then an Oklahoma City woman, tying both up in the second woman's Oklahoma City home. The escapees also are accused of committing a rash of home invasions in the Tulsa area before they were captured 36 hours after their escape. McDaniels later told investigators the prison tower was usually unmanned and that razor wire surrounding the perimeter fence was insufficient, according to the Internal Affairs report. On Nov. 15, two months before the escape, prison officials received a security audit from state officials that criticized such areas as "inmate count procedures, perimeter fencing, camera placement, and perimeter security,” according to an April 6 letter to prison officials from Ed Evans, associate director of field operations for the corrections department. The letter also noted that on Jan. 18, the state agency determined "additional corrective action was needed due to the prison's inadequate responses regarding the perimeter fencing.” McDaniels and Ellison escaped four days later. Ellison was found hanged in a Tulsa County jail cell after his capture. State officials assessed the prison damages of $60,625 for non-performance between Nov. 15, and Feb. 19, when the prison's second plan of action was accepted by the agency. "I'm not sure we really had enough time to fix all the deficiencies before the escapes,” said Charles Siegel, a spokesman for Cornell Cos. Inc., which operates the medium-security prison for the Hinton Economic Development Authority. "But I know we fixed most of them.” Cornell paid the state agency the damage assessment, Siegel said. Eldon McCumber, the Hinton authority's chairman, called the fines "extreme.” "To me, it looked like one employee didn't do their job,” McCumber said. "It was a human error.” McDaniels told investigators he and Ellison began cutting the fence at 12:30 p.m. during a recreation break. When the period was over, they entered the prison and came out with another group on recreation break. McDaniels said he was surprised that the perimeter officer was not more observant, according to the Office of Internal Affairs report. "If they had just been driving around, they would have seen us,” he told investigators. McDaniels said he and Ellison went back and forth through the cut fence about three times before taking off and stopping at the first available house just east of the prison. The report also said a 4 p.m. inmate count revealed two missing prisoners, but two more counts were taken before the prison's emergency response team was deployed at 5:30 p.m. At the time of the escape, McDaniels was serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of a Tulsa taxi driver. Ellison was serving time for burglary, motor vehicle theft and escape convictions. Authorities eventually cornered and arrested the two inmates in Tulsa, but not until after 36-hour crime spree that included the kidnapping of Hinton resident June Heldermon, 71, and Oklahoma City resident Teresa Mannix, 74. The women were left alive and bound in Mannix's home. They struggled to free themselves and then called police. McDaniels is serving a second life sentence at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester because of the kidnappings. He still faces charges for the Tulsa burglaries. Back in business -- The Hinton prison closed in April after a contract dispute with the Department of Corrections. It recently reopened. The prison houses 225 inmates and is receiving about 80 more each week from Arizona, Siegel said. The prison is expected to return to its 900-inmate capacity by late November, he said. Siegel said Cornell has spent more than $600,000 on "state-of-the-art” security, including additional perimeter fencing and sensor devices. Siegel declined to be more specific for security reasons. Vonda Weathers, Heldermon's daughter, isn't buying Cornell's new security pitch. "I'm still scared,” said Weathers, who can see the prison's lights from her home seven miles away. "I work at a restaurant in downtown Hinton, and I won't feel any safer. They said they had good security back then.”

May 4, 2007 KOLD TV
A private prison in Oklahoma will reopen later this summer after getting a contract to keep two-thousand inmates from Arizona. Houston-based Cornell Companies owns the Great Plains Correctional Facility and has agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Department of Corrections with four one-year options to follow. The prison in Hinton, Oklahoma was shut down and nearly 200 workers laid off earlier this year after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections pulled out the last of its more than 800 inmates. The prison is currently equipped with 812 beds and the contract calls for it to open with 916 beds. The prison is to expand to hold the two- thousand inmates by the fourth quarter of next year. The first inmates are expected in August or September.

April 7, 2007 The Oklahoman
The last of the Great Plains Correctional Facility's nearly 200 employees clocked out of work Friday, leaving the 9-year-old prison empty and a Caddo County town of 1,400 people wondering what will happen next. "This is devastating,” said Eldon McCumber, chairman of the Hinton Economic Development Authority (HEDA) board. "This is going to have a big impact on the community, especially HEDA. ..... "But we're working daily to get an inmate contract. Employees, meanwhile, shared their frustrations with each other Thursday at a farewell barbeque. No one in attendance would speak publicly about being laid off. "I think they're afraid they won't be hired back when the prison reopens,” said Linda Maize, whose husband, Michael, is the prison's hospital administrator. Maize and her husband expressed concern over employees who are already experiencing hardships, especially couples where both spouses were employed at the prison. "You always hear about how most of us are just one paycheck away from being homeless,” Linda Maize said. "Well, we just got our last paycheck.” Skeleton crew remains: By Friday, only a skeleton crew of 10 employees remained to man the prison and its surrounding grounds. "It's a pretty sad deal,” said Michael Maize, who has worked at the prison for four years. "There was a group of people who clung on, hoping something would happen. There was a family-type atmosphere there because we all watched each other's backs ..... "The hardest part was watching your friends lose their jobs one-by-one, and wondering when your number was going to come up. That was tough because we all knew it was coming.” The Hinton authority, which financed the $37.2 million prison a decade ago, leases the facility to Houston-based Cornell Companies for $100,000 annually and receives an additional $25,000 per month from inmate per diems. Cornell purchased the prison in 1998, and then deeded the property back to the Hinton authority under the present lease agreement. Since then McCumber said the authority has used revenue from the prison to build the Sugar Creek Canyon Golf Course, spruce up local school properties, and leverage other business projects. But those days suddenly seem like a distant memory. "Dollar-wise, we're pretty much down to nothing,” McCumber said. "We're cash-strapped, although we still have a lot of money invested in properties.”

April 4, 2007 AP
A convicted killer who allegedly escaped from a private prison and abducted a Caddo County woman will stand trial. Special District Judge David Stephens made his decision yesterday at the end of Charles McDaniels' preliminary hearing. The 35-year-old McDaniels is accused of fleeing the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton on January 22nd with another inmate. The pair allegedly broke into 71-year-old June Heldermon's home and drove her and her vehicle into Oklahoma City. It's there where authorities allege McDaniels and fellow escapee Tony Ellison broke into the home of 74-year-old Teresa Mannix, tied up her and Heldermon and left in Mannix's vehicle. The men were captured in Tulsa after a 36-hour manhunt. Ellison later hanged himself in his Tulsa jail cell.

March 20, 2007 Oklahoman
The Great Plains Correctional Facility will close indefinitely "the first week of April,” leaving some 190 employees at the private prison without work, a company spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. "The decision to close came down to contract negotiations with DOC (state Department of Corrections),” said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. Only 290 state inmates remain at the private prison from a population that was once 800 as recent as October. State corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said the remaining inmates are scheduled to be moved no later than April 6. State guards began relocating inmates after prison officials announced they would not renew their state contract in October. Parker said the decision came after months of negotiations. The bulk of Hinton's inmates were sent to the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison that recently underwent a $23 million, 600-bed expansion. "Basically, they (prison official) were telling us they were losing money,” Massie said. "We were paying other private prisons in the state anywhere from $40 to $45 a day per bed. They were getting around $47 a day per bed. "So they were getting more than anyone else.” In January, the private prison came under scrutiny when a convicted murderer and another fugitive escaped and kidnapped two elderly women. Authorities arrested both fugitives in Tulsa County, but only after a 36-hour manhunt that stretched 150 miles. Both women lived to tell their frightful story. At the time, a contract extension with the state was being discussed. Massie later said the extension wasn't necessary. "The closure has nothing to do with the escapes,” Parker said. "We had already decided not to renew our contract with DOC by then.”

February 11, 2007 AP
More than two-thirds of convicted killers in Oklahoma are not incarcerated at the state's most secure prisons, but instead are housed in state-run and private medium-security facilities, according to a published report. Fewer than 400 first-degree murderers, including the men on death row, are at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, according to records for Jan. 23. Another 117 are at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, a women's prison, The Sunday Oklahoman reported. ``Inmates can earn their way down,'' Corrections Department Director Justin Jones said. ``I think it's OK. ... For us, medium security is considered high security.'' The issue arose after convicted killer Charles McDaniels and fellow inmate Tony Ellison escaped from the Great Plains Correctional Facility after cutting holes in fences. The pair abducted a woman, drove her and her vehicle to Oklahoma City and assaulted and robbed another woman before taking off in her vehicle. They eventually were apprehended in Tulsa, where Ellison hanged himself at the jail, authorities said. McDaniels and 65 others with first-degree murder convictions were held at the medium-security private prison in Hinton. ``I had been told that they didn't have murderers there ... that it was just for burglary and assault and so forth,'' said June Heldermon, 71, who lived near the prison and was kidnapped Jan. 22, allegedly by the escapees. Heldermon is seeing a counselor over her ordeal and is staying with her daughter. ``I've got to get rid of that house,'' she said. ``I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just not about to go back up there and live. ... No way! One time's enough for me.''

January 29, 2007 The Oklahoman
A private prison that recently ended its contract with the state has notified nearly 200 employees that the prison may close. The Great Plains Correctional Facility sent notices to its employees last week telling them their jobs could be terminated within 60 days. Warden Sam Calbone said the prison is required by law to notify employees of a possible termination in advance but hopes the prison won't have to close. "We're hopefully optimistic right now that it won't come to that,” Calbone said. Prison officials and the state Corrections Department in July were in disagreement over how much the state should pay to keep inmates there. In October, the prison told state officials they had 180 days to relocate about 800 inmates being held at the prison. At the time of the announcement, company officials said they were pursuing a contract with other, undisclosed agencies for the use of the prison space. State corrections officials learned in October the prison was negotiating with other states, possibly California, which recently agreed to pay private prisons in Watonga and Sayre $63 per day to house about 500 California inmates. Oklahoma pays the Hinton prison about $47 per day per inmate.

January 25, 2007 KTUL
About 150 employees at the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton have been told the prison will be closing in March. A spokeswoman for Cornell Corrections says workers were given a 60-day notice of the closure last Friday. Spokeswoman Christine Parker says the contract between the state of Oklahoma and Cornell expired in July, and the two parties couldn't reach a new contract. She says the 530 inmates housed there are being transferred to other facilities. The facility has operated in Hinton since 1998. The closing is not connected to the escape of two inmates on Monday. The two men are accused of embarking on a crime spree before they were captured Wednesday in Tulsa. One of the two escapees killed himself this morning in a Tulsa jail.

January 25, 2007 AP
One of two men who escaped from a prison and was suspected of going on a crime spree before being recaptured hanged himself in jail Thursday and apparently had a suicide pact with the other escaped inmate, sheriff's officials said. Tony Ellison, 23, was found hanging from a bed sheet tied to a light fixture at 8:35 a.m., 20 minutes after a routine check of his cell, the Tulsa County sheriff's office said. Ellison and the other escaped inmate, Charles McDaniels, discussed their plans to kill themselves in letters found in their cells, Undersheriff Brian Edwards said. McDaniels, 35, was immediately placed on a suicide watch. "We were very surprised when we uncovered this plot between the two of them," Edwards said, adding that Ellison had not seemed despondent and had not been on a suicide watch. "If a person is very determined, it is very difficult to keep them from hurting themselves," Edwards said.

January 24, 2007 Texarkana Gazette
Authorities captured two escaped inmates, including a convicted killer, Wednesday morning after a nearly 40-hour search. Capt. Chris West of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Charles McDaniels, 35, and Tony Ellison, 23, were captured in a central Tulsa neighborhood at about 3 a.m. The men led authorities on a short car chase after investigators closed in on the home where they were hiding, West said. The men crashed the car and then fled on foot before they were arrested. There were no injuries. "We feel very satisfied that it ended like it did tonight," West said. McDaniels and Ellison escaped from the medium-security Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton, 50 miles west of Oklahoma City, on Monday by cutting through a fence in a recreation yard, said Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Massie said he wasn't sure how they could have done this without guards seeing them. He said there are no towers at the prison, but guards would monitor the perimeter of the facility. No cutting implement had been found Tuesday, Massie said. Houston-based Cornell Cos., the private operator of the prison, offered a $25,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the capture of the inmates, who are believed to have escaped at 3:24 p.m. Monday when an electronic perimeter system sounded a series of alarms at the prison's control room. Officials confirmed the prisoners were missing during a 4 p.m. head count and placed the facility on lockdown. Authorities believe the pair broke into a Hinton residence, abducted a woman and drove her and her vehicle into Oklahoma City, where they broke into a northwest-side home. Oklahoma City police Capt. Steve McCool said the men then tied up the women. He said the women were somehow able to call police for help, but he didn't have exact details. One of the women was punched and may have a broken nose, McCool said. The escapees were able to get in the house by asking to use a telephone. They pushed their way in when the woman tried to hand a phone to them. The two women were identified by police Tuesday as Wanza "June" Heldermon of Hinton, and Teresa Mannix of Oklahoma City. McCool said Heldermon may have been abducted to buy the men some time. "They probably did it in an effort to give themselves a head start from law enforcement," he said. "Then they tie them up, all in an effort to give them a head start." McDaniels had been at Great Plains since 2001, and Ellison had been there since October, Massie said. The facility holds 531 men, and the Department of Corrections had been lowering the population because the contract with Cornell was not renewed and is set to expire in April, Massie said. In a statement, Cornell said all prison personnel were at their assigned posts and all security systems were functioning properly. The company said it does not know what type of tool was used to cut through two security fences topped with razor wire, but all prison tools and equipment were accounted for. The prison also has two rows of razor wire between the fences, which are monitored by an electronic system.

January 23, 2007 Tulsa World
Two men, including one who was a teenager when he killed a Tulsa cab driver, escaped from a southwestern Oklahoma private prison Monday and allegedly abducted one woman and broke into the home of another, authorities said. Officials at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton noticed that Charles Marcel McDaniels, 35, and Tony L. Ellison, 23, were missing after a 4 p.m. head count, according to a statement from the prison's parent company, Cornell Cos. Authorities think the pair broke into a Hinton residence, abducted a woman and drove her in her vehicle to Oklahoma City, where they broke into another home, Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Keith Vance said. "They took the first victim into the house, left her there along with the second victim, but stole her (the latter victim's) car," he said. Vance did not release the victims' names. He said the condition of the Oklahoma City woman, who was seen in television footage being carried from the house on a stretcher, wasn't immediately known. The other woman has returned to Hinton, he said. The prison was locked down while the escape is investigated, Great Plains officials said.

October 24, 2006 Enid News
The old saying, “crime doesn’t pay,” might apply to criminals, but not to operators of private prisons. Officials at Hinton’s Great Plains Correctional Facility recently announced they would evict 800 state inmates housed there under contract with Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections. Cornell Cos. Inc., the Houston company that has owned the medium-security prison since 1998, is evicting the DOC prisoners, according to a spokeswoman, to consider “other business opportunities.” In other words, there are entities that will pay Cornell Cos. Inc. more per head for housing prisoners than the Oklahoma DOC can presently afford. State Corrections Director Justin Jones said the Hinton prison had been negotiating a better deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who are offering a better rate. California, which has declared an emergency due to prison overcrowding, reportedly is prepared to pay between $71 and $80 per day per prisoner to house the Golden State’s bad guys in private prisons. The state of Oklahoma, which will pay just more than $45 per day per inmate, can’t compete. You can’t blame Cornell Cos. Inc. They are a private business and, as such, are entitled to charge whatever they chooses for their services. The problem is, the state doesn’t have much room to house the 800 inmates Cornell is booting from its cells. The state has just 180 days to find someplace to put the evicted prisoners, but the state’s prisons are 98 percent full, meaning there’s little or no room for inmates at the inn. Even many county jails, which currently house more than 1,350 DOC prisoners, are at or near capacity. Such is the case with Garfield County Detention Center. So what is Oklahoma to do? Spend more money. The state either needs more prison beds, or must boost its per-diem rate for housing prisoners, or both. The DOC already has asked for a $193 million bond issue to help pay for a new 1,400-bed medium-security prison, 750 maximum security beds and other renovations. Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, thinks the state should pay for new prison space with money from the state “rainy day” fund, which he said currently contains nearly $500 million. Whether from a bond issue or from rainy day funds, the state must spend money to tackle this problem. Our police and courts are doing a good job of catching and convicting criminals, our prison system must make provisions to house them. This incident clearly illustrates the point DOC can’t count on private prisons to help solve the prison overcrowding problem.

October 12, 2006  The Oklahoman
About 800 Oklahoma inmates will be kicked out of the private prison that houses them, state Corrections Department officials learned Wednesday. The state received notice Wednesday from Cornell Corrections, the private company that runs the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton, corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said. The state will have 180 days to find new housing for about 800 inmates who currently are incarcerated in Hinton. The state has relied on the private prison for more than six years to handle part of its growing problem with prison overcrowding. State-owned prisons are essentially full, running about 98 percent of capacity. Before Wednesday's development, all public and private prisons in the state were projected to be out of space by next year. "This is just going to make a bad situation worse," Massie said. Cornell's contract with the state expired in July, and both parties weren't able to agree on terms for a new contract, leaving the company open to seek a new tenant, said Christine Parker, spokeswoman for Cornell. "We are in the process of considering other business opportunities," Parker said. State Corrections Director Justin Jones said last week the Hinton prison had been negotiating a better deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who offered a better rate. "You're dealing with a private business here, and they are in it to make money and answer to shareholders," Jones said. "Our mission is public safety, and the ideologies don't always line up."

October 6, 2006 The Oklahoman
The state Corrections Department might lose its contract with a private prison that houses 800 inmates, the agency's director said. Federal immigration officials have been negotiating a contract with the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton that would offer more favorable terms than those offered by the state, which pays $44 per day for each inmate housed there, state Corrections Director Justin Jones said. Officials for Cornell Corrections, the company that runs the prison, did not respond to inquiries Thursday from The Oklahoman. Carl Rusnok, regional spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said only that "we contract with a number of facilities around the country." U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, who has called for an increased presence by the federal agency in Oklahoma, said the agency is looking to better serve Oklahoma's immigration enforcement needs. "Any increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence in Oklahoma is a positive step for our state," Sullivan said in a statement. Jones said his agency already has executed its option to renew the contract. Leasing that space to anyone else should not be allowed under the contract, he said. Jones said corrections officials will challenge any contract with the prison that undercuts the department's holdings there.

September 16, 2006 The Gazette
The Colorado Department of Corrections is preparing to send as many as 1,000 inmates out of state — probably to two private lockups in Oklahoma — to alleviate crowding in state prisons. Alison Morgan, head of the DOC’s private-prison monitoring unit, would not discuss the department’s timetable for moving the inmates. Last month, she visited two Oklahoma prisons, the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton and the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, and she is in negotiations with the companies that run them. “Going out of state is inevitable,” she said Friday. The DOC has been warning lawmakers for months that it will soon run out of space, the result of longer sentences, a growing population and a multiyear budget crisis that canceled building projects. New private prisons to hold 3,776 inmates have been approved, and officials this year expressed optimism to the General Assembly that they could handle the state’s caseload by double-bunking inmates and finding unused space until the new prisons are built. It will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Colorado has sent a large number of inmates out of state. In 2004, 121 high-security inmates with gang affiliations were sent to a prison in Mississippi, but officials brought them back a year later after they were involved in a riot there.

July 24, 2006 Oklahoman
All five inmates who were hospitalized after an altercation Friday in a Caddo County prison have been treated and returned to jail, according to a statement from Cornell Companies Inc., the prison's private owner. Shortly before 7 p.m. Friday, between 25 and 30 inmates started a disturbance at the Great Plaines Correctional Facility that resulted in the injuries, the statement says. Five inmates were injured and taken to area hospitals in the incident, according to the statement. Earlier reports indicated seven inmates were injured and four hospitalized. All injuries were minor, the statement notes. The prison remained on lockdown Saturday. The medium security prison for men can house 766 inmates, according to the Web site of the prison's Houston-based owner. In 2005, the prison was the site of a prisoner fight that ended in the death of an inmate. And in 2000, the prison's owner was fined $304,000 for alleged security breaches that led to an inmate's escape.

July 21, 2006 KOCO 5
A disturbance was reported Friday among inmates at a private prison in Caddo County. A fight broke out among a group of inmates about 6:30 p.m. at the Great Plains Correctional Facility at Hinton, Caddo County Sheriff Gene Cain said. Cain said six or seven inmates were transported by ambulance to a hospital in El Reno. The severity of the injuries was not immediately known but they did not appear to be life threatening, Cain said. The sheriff said authorities do not know what started the fight. Capt. Stuart Meyer of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said troopers were notified of a disturbance at the private prison but that details - including how many inmates were involved and whether anyone was hurt - were not immediately known. "We've been told there was a disturbance there. But they have not requested any assistance from the highway patrol," Meyer said. Jerry Massie, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said a fight was reported in one housing unit at the prison, which houses about 250 minimum and medium security inmates. But Massie did not know the severity of the incident. A spokesman for the Hinton Police Department who asked not to be identified said the prison was in lockdown at 10 p.m. and that all inmates were back in their cells. Prison authorities refused to release any information. An unidentified operator who answered the telephone at the prison told an Associated Press reporter to call back during normal business hours and talk to someone else. The disturbance is not the first at the facility. Inmate Pedro Posadas, 32, was killed on March 4, 2005, in a fight with another inmate at the private prison. The prison, owned by Cornell Corrections Inc. of Houston, was fined by the Department of Corrections in May 2000 for alleged security breaches that allowed an inmate to escape the month before. The $304,000 penalty was at the time the largest ever assessed against an Oklahoma private prison.

November 15, 2005 AP
Members of a public trust at Hinton were duped by a Georgia man into spending more than $7.5 million on a cocoa butter plant that was doomed from the start, state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan said Tuesday. According to a special audit by McMahan's office, members of the Hinton Economic Development Authority were not informed about patent problems tied to a method of extracting cocoa butter utilizing liquefied gas. McMahan said a conflict of interest appears to exist because several members of the trust authority that approved the project also became minority owners of the cocoa butter extracting plant. Ken Doughty, vice chairman, lost $1.8 million in the deal, auditors said. They said the other board members got a share of ownership through promissory notes. Trust members were led to believe that Hinton streets would "be paved with gold" from profits on the plant, McMahan said. "Basically, the authority's board members were duped into believing in an individual, who in my opinion, deliberately made - and received payments on - promises he knew would not be kept," the state official said, identifying the developer as Donald R. Hall of Savannah, Ga. McMahan said Hall apparently contacted Hinton officials after they advertised on the Internet, seeking economic development opportunities for the town in western Oklahoma. He said the trust backed the project with part of an $18 million windfall from the sale of a private prison.

July 14, 2004 
An appeals court Tuesday agreed with two Oklahoma private prison inmates, who served as their own attorneys, that prison officials erred in disciplining them.  The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that prison officials, who revoked 365 days of earned credits from Timothy Gamble and 180 days of earned credits from Kenneth Popejoy, must restore the credits.  Gamble and Popejoy were inmates at Great Plains Correctional Facility. Officials there, who ruled the inmates violated the law that governs inmates' use of their own funds to pay for photocopying, misinterpreted the law, the judges concluded.  (News OK)

September 7, 2001
Although a private prison company might profit from inmate labor, the company is not held to the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act and does not have to pay inmates minimum wage, an appeals court ruled.  Cornell said the FLSA definition of employee did not extend to inmates working in prison, even if the prison was a profit-making entity.  Cornell asked the courts to grant summary judgment in the case.  The trial court granted Cornell's motion, saying that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Franks v. Oklahoma State Industries expressly said prisoners enjoy no FLSA protections.  The court concluded that Washington was not an employee because his relationship with the prison, and therefore with Cornell, arose from his status as an inmate, not an employee.  (Corrections Professional)

April 18, 2000
Gordon Flud, serving three life terms for assault and battery with intent to kill and kidnapping avoided the razor wire and escaped from Cornell’s medium security prison. After the last escape 16 months ago, corrections officials made recommendations to Cornell to improve security, but some of those security improvements were not made. The escapee was filmed by video cameras during the escape, but no one saw Flud on the camera. Cornell’s warden said that the guards are involved in other duties besides watching those monitors. (The Daily Oklahoman, 5/18/00)

December, 1998
A convicted child molester with a history of escape climbed over the fence and out of Cornell’s private prison. He was captured five days later in San Bernardino, CA. Cornell reported that the escape occurred a full day after it happened. (Tulsa World, December 13, 1999)

Lawton Correctional Facility
Lawton, Oklahoma

GEO Group (formerly know as Wackenhut Corrections)

Feb 6, 2014 kswo.com

LAWTON, Okla. A Lawton GEO inmate underwent surgery after he was stabbed several times and beaten. Emergency responders were called to the prison stabbing around 5 P.M. Wednesday. The victim was stabbed in the chest and stomach several times and was also beaten with a blunt object. Two suspects were identified.  Prison officials believe the fight started during an argument over money. The victim was identified as Terrill Gurley. He remains hospitalized in serious condition.


Jan 30, 2014 PCWG texomashomepage.com

Lawton police say an inmate who was found unconscious in the GEO Corrections Unit January 20 had a cell phone and made calls to 911 before he was found on the floor of his cell and taken to the hospital. No charges have been filed and no cause of death has been determined for 33 year old Christopher Glass. Police are still waiting on the medical examiner's report. Investigators say Glass, who police say was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood White Supremacist gang, had no visible stab wounds, but did have some bruises and scrapes. Recordings of a voice on that phone have not been identified. Officers say they're talking to Glass's cellmate and other inmates to piece together what happened. Police say inmates of the GEO Medium Security Prison Unit on Flower Mound Road are not authorized to have cell phones.


Jan 20, 2014 newsok.com

LAWTON — An inmate's death is Lawton's third homicide in 2014, authorities reported Monday. Police were called about 8 a.m. Monday to Lawton Correctional Facility, which is run by the GEO Group. The assaulted inmate, Christopher Glass, 33, was taken to Southwestern Medical Center, Lawton police Capt. Craig Akard said. Glass was found about 7:20 a.m. on the floor of his cell. He was taken to the prison infirmary and then taken to the hospital. Glass was pronounced dead at 9 a.m. at the hospital, Akard said. There was no immediate word from police on any potential suspects in the case.

 

Nov 1, 2013 tulsaworld.com

LAWTON — A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the estate of a state prison inmate who died nearly a year ago at the Lawton Correctional Facility. The lawsuit seeking more than $10,000 was filed in Comanche County District Court against the state Department of Corrections, The GEO Group Inc., the prison warden and an unknown correctional officer for the Nov. 12, 2012, death of 39-year-old William Schrader Jr. GEO operates the prison. Representatives of GEO, the Department of Corrections and the prison did not immediately respond to telephone calls and emails for comment. An autopsy found that Schrader died of an overdose of medication for high blood pressure. The Lawton Constitution reports that the lawsuit alleges that prison staff members were negligent in administering the medication.


Oct 31, 2013 kswo.com

LAWTON, Okla_ A Lawton GEO inmate is in an Oklahoma City hospital recovering from a severe beating that fractured his face in three places. Brian Bier was taken to a local hospital just before ten Tuesday night after a correctional officer says he was beaten in his own cell. Bier's injuries were so severe he underwent surgery. Bier wouldn't say who assaulted him. Bier was serving time for intent to manufacture drugs.

 

July 18 2013 swoknews.com

One of several inmates accused of planning and executing the stabbing death of another inmate last summer at Lawton's GEO prison has pleaded guilty to his role in the alleged murder. Court records show Darren "Veneno" Padron, 23, was scheduled to appear in Comanche County District Court Tuesday for a second preliminary hearing after the state amended his aggravated assault and battery charge to add after former felony convictions in relation to the June 13, 2012, death of 25-year-old Sonny Limpy at the Lawton Correctional Facility, 8607 SE Flower Mound Road. Padron not only waived his preliminary hearing, but he also pleaded guilty to the amended charge. Comanche County District Court Judge Gerald Neuwirth followed the prosecutor's recommendation and sentenced Padron to 10 years with five suspended along with a $500 fine. At the time of the murder, Padron was serving three, concurrent five-year sentences with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections stemming from two, 2011 convictions in Greer County for manufacturing, conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine and escape from custody. As previously reported, Padron and two others crawled through the Greer County Jail's heat and air system to the roof in January 2011. They had made a rope from jail blankets and used it to climb down from the roof, but all three were arrested within 90 minutes of the escape. While serving his sentences, Padron was implicated in the plot to beat and stab Limpy to death. Six inmates were charged in relation to the murder, and the state is planning to seek the death penalty for accused ringleader Armando "Diablo" Luna. Testimony presented at a preliminary hearing indicated 29-year-old Alonzo "Coon" Flores actually ordered Limpy to be killed after consulting with Luna about Limpy's alleged refusal to join "The 13 Movement," which is an initiative to unify all Hispanic gangs under their leadership. Limpy allegedly claimed to remain a faithful Juaritos, so Flores allegedly ordered the other inmates to kill Limpy.

 

05 April 2013 swoknews.com

An inmate formerly housed at Lawton's GEO prison is facing up to life in prison in the beating death of another inmate. Court records show 32-year-old Randy Teets has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in connection with Monday's death of Robert Day. Lawton police and the GEO Group have not said what is believed to have motivated the Feb. 9 beating that eventually resulted in Day's death. An affidavit filed in court alleges Teets admitted he had been in a physical altercation with the 53-year-old Day, but the formal charge alleges Teets did not intend to kill him. Instead, the state alleges Teets is guilty of manslaughter because he killed Day "while in the heat of passion" by beating him with his hands.  An Lawton police press release said Day was transported to a Lawton hospital and later taken to a Department of Corrections-contracted hospital, where he died Monday. Oklahoma Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Jerry Massie confirmed Day had been serving a 20-year-sentence for manslaughter. Day was charged following a 2004 drunk-driving accident in Stephens County in which 28-year-old Larry J. Wilson died and a 24-year-old was critically injured. Teets is serving an eight-year sentence from Tulsa County after being convicted of endeavoring to manufacture a controlled substance in 2011. After the assault, Teets was transported to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, so he must be transported back to Comanche County to make an initial appearance and have his bond set. Day's death marks the fifth homicide in Lawton this year and the third homicide at the Lawton Correctional Facility since February 2012. Officials say the number of murders at the local prison may be because it houses more prisoners at a given time than any other facility in the state and investigating prison violence is no easy task. Massie said all prisons in the state, whether private or state operated, are required to report all incidents to the Department of Corrections, but investigations do not necessarily have to be conducted by outside law enforcement agencies. The state has specialized unit of certified investigators who can be dispatched to state facilities to investigate fights, riots or other criminal activity; they have the ability to present their findings to district attorneys to determine what charges, if any, will be filed. Sometimes incidents may result in a disciplinary action "in house," while others may result in additional jail time. Contract monitors regularly visit all prisons in Oklahoma in order to ensure their records of reported violence or sexual assaults are current.

February 23, 2012 Oklahoman
An inmate accused of strangling his cellmate at Lawton Correctional Facility may be charged as early as Thursday, officials said. Matthew A. Dorrough, 29, was found dead in his cell about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. What initially was reported as a fatal accident is now thought to be a homicide. Witness statements and forensic evidence collected at the scene indicate Dorrough didn't die from injuries after falling from his cell bunk, but because he was strangled, said Lawton Police Capt. Craig Akard, who heads the city's detective division. “He was noticeably strangled,” Akard said. “Due to the marks around the neck, due to the individuals we talked to, we know that that's what happened.” Dorrough's cellmate, Joseph Palone, 24, is a suspect but charges have not been filed. Akard said Palone has been placed in solitary confinement, and Akard expects paperwork to be filed Thursday in Comanche County District Court.

August 23, 2011 News Channel 10
A huge fight at Lawton's GEO Prison has left a number of people injured. It happened around 4:30 p.m., at least 15 people are injured, six of which have been taken to the hospital. The prison is on lockdown. A 7News crew has seen three ambulances leave the prison. There is a fourth still parked outside. We are not sure how many people were involved in the fight or where it took place. But police suspect the fight was gang-related. Sheriff's deputies' cars are there and the prison's security guards are keeping our crew outside the entrance. We are trying to get information from Sheriff Ken Stradley, on what exactly happened.

June 24, 2011 Oklahoman
Family members of a Lawton private prison inmate who was strangled to death in his cell have been awarded a $6.5 million verdict in a wrongful-death lawsuit. “I think it's fair to say that the jurors were appalled at the evidence we brought them of inconsistencies among the staff, some applying the rules and procedures of the facility, some not, and seemingly no disciplinary action taken to those that aren't applying rules and procedures.” Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson Lawton Correctional Facility inmate Ronald Sites was strangled in 2005 by cellmate Robert Cooper, said Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, who represented Sites' son and two daughters in the wrongful death lawsuit. Cooper was later convicted of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison. Richardson said Cooper should never have been put in the cell because he had a prison history that made the killing predictable. Nine months before being placed in a cell with Sites, Cooper had been placed in isolation by the prison staff because “he told a counselor he sat on his bunk with a sheet in his hand, fighting off the urge to kill his cellmate,” Richardson said. Cooper's prison file showed he had stabbed another inmate and had twice been caught with shanks in his possession, the attorney said. Richardson said his investigation revealed the staff knew that Cooper, already a convicted murderer, wanted to go back to McAlester and had concluded the only way he was going to get to do that was to kill someone. Protective custody -- Meanwhile, Richardson said the cellmate Cooper subsequently strangled was a former police officer who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in an oil-field accident. Richardson said the brain injury had left Sites unable to control his constant talking, which proved to be a “real annoyance” to staff members and other inmates. Sites was in protective custody and was supposed to have been kept in a cell alone, but prison officials ignored the restriction and placed a series of cellmates in with him, Richardson said. None stayed very long because of Sites' behavior, the attorney said. “The whole thing was covered up,” Richardson said. Richardson said the warden and the vice president of The Geo Group, the private prison's operator, maintained throughout the trial that they had not failed at anything. “The state of Oklahoma did a window-dressing-type investigation,” Richardson said. Richardson said the judge who presided over Cooper's murder trial recommended a grand jury investigation, but “the attorney general closed it down.” $6M in actual damages -- Richardson's clients were awarded $6 million in actual damages and $500,000 in punitive damages by the Comanche County jury. Richardson said he found out later that two jurors wanted to award his clients $25 million. “It absolutely was a verdict that was given by very conscientious jurors who listened to seven days of testimony of conduct in a prison system that should not be acceptable,” Richardson said. “I think it's fair to say that the jurors were appalled at the evidence we brought them of inconsistencies among the staff, some applying the rules and procedures of the facility, some not, and seemingly no disciplinary action taken to those that aren't applying rules and procedures.” The Geo Group's attorney could not be reached for comment.

December 1, 2009 The Oklahoman
Investigators are trying to determine if a prison attack Saturday may be tied to a series of coordinated prison fights that took place a week earlier between Hispanic and American Indian prisoners. In the latest attack, Lawton police said Saturday that two inmates at the Lawton Correctional Center were attacked by two other inmates wielding homemade hatchets and knives. The injured inmates were taken by ambulance to a Lawton hospital, and one of the men required surgery. The private prison is owned by Florida-based GEO Group Inc., which on Monday referred questions to Lawton police. Calls to Lawton police detectives Monday were not returned. A Lawton television station reported that two American Indian inmates attacked two Hispanic inmates. Last week, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said he had heard the initial prison gang fights stemmed from the arrest of an American Indian man accused of shooting, stabbing and burning three women and a Hispanic man at a southwest Oklahoma City house on Nov. 9.

November 30, 2009 AP
Two inmates are recovering after a weekend attack at a private prison in Lawton. Lawton police say the two inmates were attacked Saturday by two other inmates wielding homemade hatchets and knives at the Lawton Correctional Center. Both were transported by ambulance to a Lawton hospital, where one of the victims required surgery. The prison is owned by Florida-based GEO Group, Inc., and a GEO spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. After the attack, police say GEO officers locked down all inmates and secured the crime scene. Police say the attack was captured on videotape, which was taken as evidence.

November 6, 2009 Oklahoman
A three-time convicted drug trafficker was arrested early Friday after using a fake court document to hoodwink the Lawton Correction Facility into releasing him from prison. Richard Lynn Dopp, 47, was sleeping at his mother’s rural Ottawa County home around 2:30 a.m. when he was taken into custody and returned to the Corrections Department, said Ottawa County District Attorney Eddie Wyant. He was released from the Lawton Correction Facility, a private prison, on Oct. 5 after the prison received a fraudulent modified judgment and sentence report. “Unbelievable – Unbelievable,” Wyant said of the prisoner’s plan. The bogus document indicates Wyant attended the July 27 court hearing where Dopp’s life sentence with no chance of parole was modified to 10 years and a $25,000 fine forgiven. The document also has an Ottawa County District Court file stamp dated Aug. 11. No copy of the document was ever filed in Ottawa County District Court, Wyant said. Wyant did not attend the meeting and was the first person to notice Dopp’s game when Corrections Department officials sent out a notice listing Dopp as being released from prison. Wyant learned the sham legal document was fraudulently signed July 27 by Bruce David Gambill.

July 24, 2009 Oklahoman
Prison inmate Richard Hayes, 59, of Ada died Tuesday after guards found him unresponsive in his cell at the Lawton Correctional Facility, officials said. Lawton police Capt. Rusty Wright said Hayes died about 7 a.m. at a local hospital. The cause of Hayes’ death was still under investigation Thursday. Wright said officers found possible drug overdose indications.

February 14, 2009 AP
Lawton police are investigating the death of an inmate at private prison there. The man was found hanging in his cell at the Lawton Correctional Center just before 10 p.m. Friday. The prison is operated by the GEO Group Inc. Lawton police did not immediately release the inmate's name and age.

December 16, 2008 Tulsa World
Taking a tougher approach, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has withheld more than $589,000 in payments to private prison operators in the past year because of staffing shortages. Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has had five payments of $40,000 or more withheld since December for failing to fill vacancies within 45 days, including several positions in the medical field. In April, the state withheld $59,191 in payments because 19 positions remained unfilled within 45 days. Among them was a clinical supervisor slot that DOC officials said had been open for 457 days. The Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville also has had about $76,000 in payments withheld since August because of staffing incidents. Both facilities are owned by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville. A company official says it has had difficulty filling medical positions because of a nationwide shortage. In addition to the money it has already withheld, the DOC has another $50,000 in fines pending for November. The DOC has withheld payments to private prisons in 28 instances since last December for failing to fill positions in a timely manner. The department's decision to penalize private prisons financially for contract violations stems from a recommendation made in a performance audit of the Department of Corrections requested last year by the Oklahoma Legislature. "The audit felt like we were giving too many warnings to private prisons and that we needed to start doing more liquidated damages," DOC Director Justin Jones said last week. An official with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which sought information on the fines, said the organization is concerned whether private prison contractors are actually fixing the problems, or simply paying the fines. Mark Beutler, director of communications, said Monday that OPEA is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will make contractors more transparent. "We believe contractors should be held more accountable in reporting violations and also in the ways they are spending taxpayers' money," Beutler said. Calling the shortage of medical personnel a problem for prisons, Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen said the company is making a good faith effort to fill its medical services vacancies as quickly as possible. Until the positions are filled, Owen said the facilities will hire part-time employees or pay overtime to prevent a drop-off in services. "This is hitting us in the wallet, but it's not costing the taxpayer," Owen said. The state has about 4,540 inmates housed in three private prisons in the state. In addition to the CCA facilities in Cushing and Holdenville, the third private prison that contracts with DOC is the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Lawton facility has had about $23,000 in fines since last December, including about $10,000 that is pending for November. The facility is owned by the GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. The performance audit, which was released Dec. 31, 2007, said the enforcement of liquidated damages provisions in the state's contract with private prisons was extremely rare and time-consuming. "DOC's process is somewhat cumbersome in that it requires multiple levels of consideration by executive staffs," the audit report said. It called DOC's failure to use liquidated damages effectively "a serious problem with DOC's management process" that has eroded the credibility of the contract monitoring system. In the past, DOC has used more informal sanctions in response to contract breaches, which sometimes resulted in adjustments in a facility's population level. "As system crowding worsens, however, the flexibility to reduce population in response to problems diminishes significantly," the audit reported.

August 5, 2008 AP
A second inmate has been charged with murder in the September 2007 beating death of another prisoner at a private prison in Lawton. Prosecutors upgraded a conspiracy charge against 50-year-old James Hamilton to first-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Darrell Myers at the Lawton Correctional Facility. Inmate Charles Snail pleaded guilty to murder in the case and was sentenced last week to life in prison. An affidavit in the case says another inmate heard the 40-year-old Snail and Hamilton plotting to kill Myers in order to be transferred to another prison. The affidavit says Hamilton told investigators he was present during the killing but did not take part in it.

August 1, 2008 AP
A prison inmate has been handed a life sentence for the 2007 slaying of his cell mate at a private prison in Lawton. Charles W. Snail was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree murder. Smith was charged with killing Darrell Myers in September 2007 at the Lawton Correctional Facility. Myers died of blunt force trauma to the head. At the time, the 40-year-old Snail was serving a five-year sentence for escape. Another man, 50-year-old James Hamilton, is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the killing. Court records show Myers died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

July 29, 2008 KSWO
Cell phones are increasing in number, and in addition to teens being ardent users, prisoners are trying to get their hands on them. Most prisons and jails prohibit cell phones, which officials consider contraband since cell phones enable inmates to potentially commit crimes on the street - even when incarcerated. Prisons across the country - including the Lawton Correctional Facility of GEO Group - say that they are confiscating cell phones at an alarming rate. Some inmates have cell phones because they would like to keep in touch with family and friends, while others use them to continue their criminal activity, which can lead to inmates harming each other, prison guards, and former victims. Warden of Lawton's GEO Correctional Facility, David Miller, says it isn't hard for inmates to get cell phones. "Often times we'll find a cell phone because a victim will call and say, ‘I just heard from this person.' In a correctional facility, anytime you open a door there's a chance there's something not authorized coming through." It is a possibility that those who enter the building could be bringing contraband along with them - anyone from visitors to corrupt staff. "They're subject to disciplinary charges, and also, during the last legislative session, it was made where it is a misdemeanor now to bring in or possess a cell phone in a correctional facility without authorization," says Miller.

January 1, 2008 AP
An inmate at a private prison in Lawton took a dentist and a dental assistant hostage with a homemade knife during a brief standoff before surrendering to authorities. Lawton police were called to the GEO Correctional Facility in south Lawton about 10:45 a.m. Monday after inmate Frank Elliott took the pair hostage. No injuries were reported, and police reported the prison's hostage negotiation team was able to talk Elliott into releasing the hostages and surrendering. Lawton police reported Elliott was taken into custody and transferred to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Prison records show the 49-year-old Elliott is serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction out of Pottawatomie County. Elliott has previous convictions for escape, embezzlement and failure to return rented property. Warden David Miller said Tuesday the incident was being investigated by the Lawton Police Department and declined further comment.

September 28, 2007 The Oklahoman
Prison officials are investigating the second homicide this week to occur behind prison walls. Darrell Myers, 44, was found dead inside his cell Wednesday night at the Lawton Correctional Facility, said Jerry Massie, Department of Corrections spokesman. Lawton police are investigating the death at the private prison as a homicide, Massie said. Myers is the sixth Oklahoma inmate to be killed behind prison walls this year, including another death Monday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Myers died of a blunt force injury to the head and was serving a 15-year sentence for a rape conviction.

March 20, 2007 The Oklahoman
The Great Plains Correctional Facility will close indefinitely "the first week of April,” leaving some 190 employees at the private prison without work, a company spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. "The decision to close came down to contract negotiations with DOC (state Department of Corrections),” said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. Only 290 state inmates remain at the private prison from a population that was once 800 as recent as October. State corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said the remaining inmates are scheduled to be moved no later than April 6. State guards began relocating inmates after prison officials announced they would not renew their state contract in October. Parker said the decision came after months of negotiations. The bulk of Hinton's inmates were sent to the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison that recently underwent a $23 million, 600-bed expansion. "Basically, they (prison official) were telling us they were losing money,” Massie said. "We were paying other private prisons in the state anywhere from $40 to $45 a day per bed. They were getting around $47 a day per bed. "So they were getting more than anyone else.” In January, the private prison came under scrutiny when a convicted murderer and another fugitive escaped and kidnapped two elderly women. Authorities arrested both fugitives in Tulsa County, but only after a 36-hour manhunt that stretched 150 miles. Both women lived to tell their frightful story. At the time, a contract extension with the state was being discussed. Massie later said the extension wasn't necessary. "The closure has nothing to do with the escapes,” Parker said. "We had already decided not to renew our contract with DOC by then.”

November 28, 2006 The Oklahoman
The parents of two Oklahoma prison inmates joined their sons as convicted felons Monday after pleading guilty to conspiracy in Oklahoma County District Court in Oklahoma City. Alfred Gene Anderson, 68, and Patricia Kaye Johnson, 62, will be on supervised probation for the next three years after admitting their roles in a scheme to smuggle drugs into a private prison in Lawton. They were among five people indicted in February by a state grand jury. Anderson and Johnson allegedly gathered more than $140,000 from the families of other inmates between November 1998 and October 2004, according to the indictment. Anderson allegedly bribed a prison guard a dozen times to get drugs for his stepson, Darrin Marcel Brewer, who was serving time on drug convictions out of Garfield County, the indictment states. Brewer, 39, pleaded guilty last month to all charges in the 15-count indictment. He was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison. Charges are pending against Brewer's wife, LaShanda Annette Ross Brewer, and associate Carlene Misner, who are due in court Friday.

October 31, 2006 The Oklahoman
An inmate was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday in Oklahoma County District Court after pleading guilty to participating in a ring that smuggled and sold illegal drugs inside the Lawton Correctional Facility. Inmate Darrin Marcel Brewer, 39, sold drugs to other inmates, who bought the drugs on credit, according to a state grand jury indictment returned in February. Inmates who purchased drugs would have relatives or friends make payments to Brewer's wife and other associates outside the prison, the grand jury alleged. A guard allegedly was bribed to smuggle drugs inside the prison, and LaShanda Brewer allegedly concealed nearly $60,000 in payments from drug sales. Brewer was serving time for drug convictions out of Garfield County when the smuggling occurred. Four alleged co-conspirators were indicted along with Brewer. They included his wife, LaShanda Brewer, 31; stepfather Alfred Gene Anderson, 68; and associates Patricia Kaye Johnson, 64, and Carlene Misner, 53. They waived their rights to preliminary hearings Monday. Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office assists the state's multicounty grand jury and conducted the investigation in cooperation with the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Oklahoma Corrections Department.

October 26, 2006 The Oklahoman
Police detectives presented evidence Wednesday to Comanche County District Attorney Robert Schulte, accusing two prison gang members of killing a fellow Lawton Correctional Facility inmate in his cell. Schulte said he will delay filing charges to see the results of further investigation. Investigators identified inmates Brandon James Horne and Michael Sean Rose as the two men who allegedly killed Charles A. Willingham in his cell Monday, according to a Lawton Police Department statement. Willingham, 53, died at the Southwestern Medical Center emergency room. He was serving 20 years in the private prison for lewd molestation. "There is no sense of urgency here since the suspects are already incarcerated," Schulte said. "So the investigation will continue." Detectives said Horne and Rose were known members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a gang notorious for extorting protection money from sex offenders. Two witnesses told investigators Horne and Rose entered Willingham's cell to either extort money from him or rob him of his belongings. The witnesses claim when Willingham refused to pay them $100, he was knocked to the ground and stomped to death.

October 25, 2006 KSWO
The inmate killed at the Lawton Correctional Facility yesterday afternoon has been identified. Lawton police identified him as 53-year-old Charles A. Willingham, who was serving time for lewd molestation and a felony firearm conviction. Willingham was pronounced dead at Southwestern Medical Center yesterday afternoon. "It was apparent to CSI personnel and the examiner both that this was more than likely a homicide, " said Captain John DeBoard, the Criminal Investigation Division Commander for the Lawton Police Department. "His injuries to his upper body and head are consistent with a beating. At this point police do not have an official cause of death or manner, but that's what we're suspecting at this point." DeBoard said the official cause of death will need to be determined by the State Medical Examiner. Meanwhile CSI personnel from LPD are processing the evidence gathered at the scene and a team of detectives have begun their investigation. DeBoard said detectives will interview some 300 inmates who had access to the victim and, in addition, will begin reviewing video surveillance and interviewing prison staff responsible for the cell block. Willingham's death is the first suspected murder at the prison since January 2005 when Robert Cooper strangled his cellmate, Ronald Sites, to death. Cooper was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced in April of this year. During Cooper's trial allegations were made against LCF employees and the prison itself. "A prison shouldn't be a Holiday Inn, but there are basic human rights even people in prison are entitled to and I have some concern," said District Judge Alan McCall at Cooper's trial in April 2006. Judge McCall was so stunned by Robert Cooper's allegations of drug dealing and corruption inside the prison that he called on Oklahoma's Attorney General to form a multi-county grand jury. Today, a spokesman for the Attorney General said they have received Judge McCall's information and they are following up on that information. The next multi-county grand jury is set to be convened on November 7th, but there's no word if Cooper's allegations will make the bill.

September 29, 2006 Tulsa World
All of the jail and prison space in the state will be taken in the coming months, the Board of Corrections was told Thursday. Although statistics show the state system is at 97.96 percent of capacity, it is technically full because some beds have to be reserved for inmates who can't have a cellmate, for administrative segregation and for offenders in transit, said Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones. "Anytime we get over 97 percent, we are full," Jones said. Another 1,193 state inmates are backed up in county jails awaiting transfer into the state system. But Oklahoma is not alone in facing a space crunch. California needs 25,000 beds right away, Jones said. "They called us as courtesy to say they would be shopping in our state," he said. The Board of Corrections is seeking a supplemental appropriation of slightly more than $47 million to get through the current fiscal year, said Jim Harris, DOC chief financial officer. The bulk of the funds, nearly $34 million, would be to cover contract beds, Harris said. Another $5.8 million would add 600 contract beds at the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison operated by the GEO Corp.

September 25, 2006 Yahoo.com
The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE: GEO - News; "GEO") announced today the opening of the 600-bed expansion to the Lawton Correctional Facility (the "Facility") located in Lawton, Oklahoma. As a result of the expansion, the Facility which houses Oklahoma inmates now has a new contract capacity of 2,518 beds, representing the largest correctional facility in the state of Oklahoma.

February 5, 2006 The Oklahoman
An inmate, his wife and stepfather and two others have been indicted for their alleged roles in a drug-smuggling ring at the Lawton Correctional Facility. The inmate, Darrin Brewer, 38; his wife, Lashanda Brewer, 31; stepfather Alfred Gene Anderson, 67; Patricia Kaye Johnson, 63; and Carlene Misner, 52, were indicted last week. They are charged with conspiracy, concealing drug money, bribery and racketeering. The indictment became public Friday. State grand jurors allege the accused bribed a guard a dozen times to smuggle drugs to Darrin Brewer to sell to other inmates at the private prison. Grand jurors allege relatives and friends of the drug users paid Lashanda Brewer and others. Lashanda Brewer allegedly concealed almost $60,000 in payments from the drug sales.

December 22, 2005 The Oklahoman
A former inmate at a private prison and his wife have been charged for their alleged involvement in a drug-smuggling ring. Darrin Marcel Brewer, 38, and LaShanda Annette Brewer, 31, were indicted by the state grand jury last week. The indictment was made public Wednesday. Grand jurors allege Darrin Brewer sold smuggled drugs and other contraband goods to inmates at the Lawton Correctional Center. Grand jurors allege inmates arranged for friends or relatives to pay LaShanda Brewer.

October 28, 2005 The Oklahoman
The warden of a Lawton private prison testified Thursday before Oklahoma's multicounty grand jury as jurors resumed their probe of a large drug-smuggling ring that operated inside the prison. David Miller, warden of the Lawton Correctional Facility, declined to discuss his testimony, but said he had done nothing wrong. Grand jury testimony is closed to the public. Grand jurors also heard from some inmates who were taken back and forth in shackles and under guard. Law enforcement authorities revealed last June they had uncovered a drug-smuggling ring providing inmates inside the prison with marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. Officials tracked more than $200,000 coming from 14 states that was used to buy the drugs, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control said at the time. At least 100 inmates were suspected of being customers. Former correctional officer Michael McClain was accused of being the main supplier. He resigned in February. The Lawton Correctional Facility houses about 1,900 inmates. About one in five were convicted of drug crimes.

June 23, 2005 The Oklahoman
A new grand jury spent parts of Tuesday and Wednesday hearing secret testimony about a possible prison drug smuggling ring. No indictments have been handed down. Grand jurors return Aug. 9-11. The state's 10th multicounty grand jury is looking into an alleged drug ring at the Lawton Correctional Facility. The private prison houses about 1,900 inmates. Investigators have identified one guard as involved.

June 20, 2005 The Association Press State & Local Wire
A drug-smuggling ring that provided inmates at a private prison with marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroine will be the focus of a multi-county grand jury investigation that begins Tuesday.  Officials have tracked more than $200,000 coming from 14 states used to buy the drugs for inmates at the Lawton Correctional Facility, said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. At least 100 inmates are suspected customers.  Inmates and their families organized the shipments and a guard suspected of helping run the operation brought the drugs from Oklahoma City, according to court records.  Former correctional officer Michael McClain is accused of being the main supplier.  "He could get whatever they wanted as long as they paid," Woodward said.  McClain resigned in February, said Pablo Paez, a spokesman for Geo Group Inc., which owns the private prison. The prison houses about 1,900 medium- and minimum-security inmates. About one in five were convicted of drug crimes.  Inmate Darrin Brewer, 38, told investigators he was facilitating drug deals while incarcerated in Lawton, Tim Coppick, an investigator with the Department of Corrections, wrote in a warrant filed in Oklahoma County. Brewer is on parole after serving time for trafficking and delivering narcotics.  Brewer said he orchestrated the operation by using a cell phone McClain smuggled into the prison. Inmates are not allowed to have cell phones.  Investigators uncovered a similar scheme last year at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing. That prison is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. Five people, including a guard, were charged.

 February 1, 2005 News OK
A man serving life in prison for murder is the main suspect in the strangling death of his cell mate, police said Monday. The Lawton Police Department is investigating the death of Ronald Stanley Sites, 48, at the Lawton Correctional Facility. The facility is a private prison run by the Geo Group Inc. Sites' roommate, 32- year-old Robert M. Cooper, was in the locked cell with Sites and is the main suspect, Wright said.

February 13, 2004
A deputy warden at a Lawton prison resigned Thursday, a day after being arrested on child pornography charges.  Ronald Jay Champion, 51, is charged with possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, possession with the intent to distribute child pornography and violating the state computer crimes act. Champion has been deputy warden at the corporate-owned Lawton Correctional Facility.  "Mr. Champion, as of today (Thursday), has resigned from the company as deputy warden," said Pablo Paez, spokesman for the prison's owner, Geo Group Inc.  According to a court affidavit, undercover police in Irving, Texas, began an online dialogue in December with a user with the Internet profile name "Golden1567." The user name has been linked to a computer used at Champion's home, court records state.  In their correspondence, Golden1567 sent the Texas officer images consistent with child pornography. He also told the officer that he'd recently had sex with an 11-year-old girl, the affidavit states.  Irving police contacted Oklahoma authorities.  The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation obtained a search warrant for Champion's Piedmont home and seized a computer that had several pornographic images, the affidavit states.  Champion provided the OSBI oral and written confessions to possessing the illicit material, according to the affidavit.  OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Champion is a former prison administrator for the state Corrections Department. He is free on $40,000 bail.  (The Oklahoman)

February 12, 2004
A prison administrator from Piedmont is free on bail after turning himself in to law enforcement Wednesday.  Canadian County prosecutors filed four felony charges related to child pornography against Ronald Jay Champion, 51.  Champion is an assistant warden at the Lawton Correctional Facility. He was released Wednesday afternoon from Canadian County jail after posting $40,000 bail, sheriff's department Capt. Cyndi Rogers said.  (The Oklahoman)

June 28, 2003
An inmate who was critically injured in an attack earlier this week died Friday from his injuries, Lawton police report.  Samuel J. Fidler, 20, died about noon Friday after suffering numerous head, neck and facial injuries. His death has been ruled a homicide, Lawton police Capt. William Mathis said.  Fidler was an inmate at the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison that houses medium- and minimum- security Oklahoma inmates.  A correctional officer found Fidler beaten and unconscious in his cell Wednesday. An ambulance was called and he was taken to a Lawton hospital.  Two units at the prison were locked down after the attack.  Fidler, serving a sentence for lewd molestation out of Oklahoma County, had been at the prison only 20 hours when he was attacked, Mathis said.  No suspects have been named by police, and investigators haven't said how Fidler's wounds were inflicted. Police suspect more than one person carried out the attack.  Fidler's body was taken to Oklahoma City for an autopsy. Investigators hope to have a cause of death and a motive for the attack identified soon, Mathis said.  He said he thinks police can present evidence for charges to prosecutors next week.  (The Oklahoman)

June 27, 2003
An inmate at the Lawton Correctional Facility was on life support Thursday after being severely beaten, officials said.  Two units of the medium- security, privately run prison were still on lockdown after the Wednesday attack, said Dean Caldwell, prison spokesman.  A correctional officer found Samuel J. Fidler, 20, beaten and unconscious in his cell Wednesday afternoon. An ambulance was called and he was taken to a Lawton hospital, Caldwell said.  Fidler was last reported to be in critical condition and on life support, Caldwell said. He'd suffered numerous wounds to his head, face and neck, according to the state Department of Corrections.  Lawton police Capt. William Mathis said Fidler was attacked by more than one inmate, but wouldn't say how he was attacked, who the attackers were or whether a weapon was found.  Police haven't determined a motive for the attack.  Fidler was sent to the Lawton prison in January 2002. He is serving a 61/2-year sentence for lewd molestation out of Oklahoma County.  The prison, owned by Wackenhut Corrections Corp., houses 1,883 medium- and minimum- security Oklahoma inmates.  (The Oklahoman)

Norman School Board
Norman, Oklahoma
Sodexho

November 5, 2002
Sodexho Management will lay off employees to accommodate a request by Norman Public School Officials to lower the district's custodial contract by $100,000.  The Norman School Board will approve or disapprove the Sodexho contract at $:30 p.m. today.  With the layoffs, Sodexho has agreed to provide fewer nonessential custodial duties.  Four custodial positions will be eliminated for an approximate savings of $64,000.  Cleanings at middle schools will be reduced four hours per evening.  Norman's two high schools will receive eight hours less of evening cleaning, with classrooms being cleaned every other day.  Absent evening employees will not be replaced or substituted, and overtime will not be used.  Norman Finance Director Brenda Burkett said when the district contracted with Sodexho for its custodial services in  the mid-1990s, the district's custodians were transferred to the company.  All custodians within the school district became Sodexho employees.  (The Oklahoman)

North Fork Correctional Facility
Sayre, Oklahoma
CCA
October 12, 2013 tulsaworld.com

OKLAHOMA CITY - Two years after a riot sent dozens of California inmates to hospitals all over western Oklahoma, a group of prisoners who lived through the melee is suing the private prison company that owns the sprawling facility. The inmates, who are black men, claim they were put in harm's way when the former warden allowed them to mix with large groups of Hispanic gang members at North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre. The suit alleges that poorly trained prison guards and reckless understaffing are to blame for the "severe and permanent physical and mental injuries" suffered by the four inmates, who are identified in court records as Michael Bolton, Jamar Henry, Kevin Hicks and Jabaar Walton. The men were serving time at the private prison in far western Oklahoma on Oct. 11, 2011, when a massive riot erupted. The riot started at 11:37 a.m. after a "one-on-one fight" in the facility's main dining hall, court records state. "Thereafter, fighting spread to the West Yard, Gym A, Bravo North, the expansion dining hall and the Hotel Alpha housing unit," an attorney for the inmates wrote in the petition, "with Hispanics associated with the Surenos prison gang systematically attacking and beating African- American inmates, including plaintiffs." The inmates' attorney specifically blamed Corrections Corporation of America, the owner of North Fork, and Fred Figueroa, the prison's former warden. The prison company has refused to comment. "Defendants ... were aware that by concentrating a large number of Hispanics associated with the Surenos prison gang at North Fork, they were putting plaintiffs, African- American inmates, at a significant risk of harm," the attorney wrote. The attorney also wrote that understaffing at the prison prevented guards from offering much assistance. "Often, they merely watched the attacks from outside the area until the attacks stopped on their own or ... were able to gather enough manpower to try and intervene," the attorney wrote in the suit. Reports from the private prison company at the time indicate that nearly 50 inmates were injured. Sixteen required hospitalization at nearby medical centers. Some inmates required extensive recovery time. Four inmates were taken to a nursing home in Midwest City so they could recover in a safe environment. The inmates, who were guarded by armed men while at the nursing home, included a murderer and rapist, drawing the ire of officials from the state Health Department. The nursing home was fined more than $150,000 for allowing the inmates to live there. Beckham County District Attorney Dennis Smith said Friday that it's unlikely any inmates involved in the North Fork riot will be charged with a crime, despite the fact that dozens of inmates were brutally assaulted and some nearly died. Smith said video evidence is of poor quality and has provided little help to investigators. Other inmates have offered no assistance. "Even the victims — and we kind of expected this — would say things like, T don't have anything to say,' or T didn't see what happened,'" Smith said.

12/9/2012  By ANDREW KNITTLE NewsOK.com
The actions of a private prison company, which took months to turn over investigative materials to local agencies after a prison riot last year in Sayre, could lead to a change in Oklahoma law. Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said the agency will propose an amendment to an existing law dealing with private prison companies during the upcoming legislative session. The change would force private prison companies housing out-of-state inmates in Oklahoma to provide information concerning "a riot, escape or other serious emergency and facility operations upon request of Oklahoma DOC," agency records show. It would also allow the state agency to fine companies who don't comply. Minutes from a recent corrections board meeting show the Oct. 11, 2011, prison riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility - which required a sizable response from local law enforcement agencies - is the impetus of the soon-to-be-proposed law change. "The riot received much publicity from local sheriff offices talking about the incident, which happened in October 2011," Corrections Department documents state. "By December 2011, local law enforcement still had not received information on charges to be filed on the offenders involved in the riot, nor had they received any reports on the incident." The riot, which is still somewhat shrouded in mystery, left 46 prisoners injured. Sixteen of those were hurt badly enough to be taken to local hospitals. Three prisoners were in critical condition, prison officials said shortly after the melee. All of the inmates at the facility are from California, which began transferring prisoners out of state years ago to ease overcrowding. North Fork, located in the western Oklahoma town of Sayre, is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. The company owns and operates dozens of prisons across the nation, including three others in Oklahoma. Massie said the Corrections Department is allowed to review the security plans private prison companies will implement in Oklahoma and also is permitted to screen inmates coming in from out of state. "We have some oversight responsibilities ... even though they're not our inmates," Massie said. "If they're going to send those inmates to Oklahoma, they ought to be willing to give us information ... if they have something happen at one of the prisons." When the amendments were discussed at a recent corrections board meeting, Director Justin Jones pointed out that Corrections Corporation of America is not subject to open records laws because it's a private company. When asked by The Oklahoman whether the amended laws, if passed, would trump open records laws, Massie said he wasn't sure at this point."We hope so," he said. "We certainly think it does." Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said the company has and will continue to work with local agencies and prosecutors. "For the past 14 years, CCA has consistently worked closely with local law enforcement agencies and the district attorney's office," Owen said. "At all times our facility management and staff fully cooperate with and support the investigative processes of law enforcement officials and prosecutors."

12/30/2012  Tulsa World   
MIDWEST CITY  -  California corrections officials knew a private prison company was housing a convicted murderer, rapist and two other felons at a Midwest City nursing home, but contend they had no "role in approving or objecting to this facility," a department spokeswoman said Friday. Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the state agency is in "constant communication" with Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that has thousands of inmates from the Golden State under its purview. Documents available on the state Health Department's website reveal the California inmates were housed at Buena Vista Care and Rehabilitation Center from Oct. 19, 2011, to Nov. 15, 2011, although Thornton said they were there even longer. The inmates, severely injured during an Oct. 11, 2011, riot at North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, were shackled and chained to their beds, not far from the typical residents one would find in any nursing facility. Armed guards, reportedly as many as three at a time, watched over the prisoners at all times, the Health Department report states. Thornton said Buena Vista fit the prisoners' needs. "This is a skilled nursing facility that also provides rehabilitative services," she said. "It was selected because it met the treatment and rehabilitative needs of these inmates. It also satisfied security concerns." Thornton said the convicts housed at Buena Vista have since been transferred out of Oklahoma. She said one is in a private prison in Arizona while the other three are back in California. "The four inmates had all suffered severe head injuries," she said. "They could not be transferred back to California or anywhere else, for that matter, until their conditions had improved." California began transferring inmates out of state years ago to ease overcrowding, but the nation's most populous state is now in the process of bringing those prisoners back home. The inmates currently being housed at North Fork are expected to be gone by the end of 2013, Thornton said. Buena Vista was fined $168,000 for taking in the inmates  -  an arrangement that placed 120-plus residents in "immediate jeopardy," the Health Department report shows. Dorya Huser, chief of long-term care for the state's Protective Health Services division, said the inmates' stay at Buena Vista Care and Rehabilitation Center is "completely shocking ... and I've been doing this awhile." Huser said it's the first time she's heard of such a thing. "To put felons in a nursing home is just appalling," she said. "They had been convicted of extremely serious crimes, and that in itself would make them a danger to other residents." Huser said the realization that four dangerous felons had lived at the nursing home came during a routine inspection in March. "We went in there to do a regular survey and came upon this," Huser said. "Everybody was puzzled as to how on earth this happened." Huser said residents of the facility were "very much impacted" by the presence of the inmates. "The prisoners were taken through the facility at times, and the residents saw them during that time," she said. "It was very unsettling for them. Try and imagine that."

July 31, 2012 Tulsa World
What's happening in the southwestern Oklahoma town of Sayre is a cautionary tale about community reliance on private prisons. Sayre began enjoying an economic boost several years ago when the North Fork Correctional Facility, owned by Corrections Corporation of America, received more than 2,000 inmates from California. The city enjoyed increased revenue - about $1.3 million annually to the town of 4,000. Business activity increased and employment soared. But now, California is withdrawing its inmates. The inmates were sent to Sayre in the first place because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ordered California to reduce its enormous prison population. There's confusion about how many of the more than 400 jobs linked to the private prison in Sayre will be lost. There are also questions about a riot in October, which injured 46 inmates and resulted in at least 20 charges for violent offenses. Prosecution of these cases has put a strain on the Beckham County district attorney's office. Private prisons offer a pressure valve for state prisons that are at capacity. But in some ways states become the "prisoners" of private prisons. When those companies raise rates, states must come up with extra money. If a crime program - the Justice Reinvestment Initiative - pays off in the next few years, more nonviolent inmates could be handled in the community, thus negating the need for more prisons or contracting with private prisons. If it had to do it over, Sayre probably would not turn down the economic boost of at least $1.3 million annually, nor those 400 extra jobs. But now that economic windfall is headed out of town - at least for the time-being. Take note: The state has other private prisons, which it relies upon heavily. Should it?

July 26, 2012 NPR
When California ran out of space to house its growing inmate population, it turned to Corrections Corporation of America, which owns private prisons in 16 states, including Oklahoma. Now there are more than 2,000 Californians locked up at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre. The arrangement wasn’t supposed to cost Oklahoma anything, but a recent riot at North Fork is changing that. Forty-six inmates were injured before CCA guards were able to restore order in the October 2011 riot. The company isn’t saying what caused the riot, but prosecutors say some of the California inmates who started it committed crimes in Oklahoma, and will have to face justice here. That task falls to Beckham County District Attorney Dennis Smith’s office. “Now, this riot will create substantial costs to us,” Smith says. “A lot of that is going to depend on how many cases we actually file. It’s already added a strain. So, for me to be able to expound exactly how much it costs — there are so many factors that go into that. How many people are prosecuted? How many are convicted? How many are actually going to serve time.” Smith oversees a five-county district, and his office is still dealing with job cuts resulting from the state budget crisis. Resources are thin, and the possibility of having to prosecute up to 20 riot-related violent crimes won’t help matters. “D.U.I.s, shoplifting, burglary, we see that kind of stuff,” Smith says. “Conversely, you get into cases that we don’t deal with a lot. One of those is prison cases.” Charges are expected to be filed within weeks, but prosecution is only part of the cost to the state. “When we prosecute someone, say it’s for assaulting a guard or assaulting a fellow inmate, and we assign them some length of sentence, they’re not going to serve it in CCA. They’ve suddenly become the property of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections when it’s time to serve their sentence. That’s an additional cost to the citizens, taxpayers of Oklahoma,” Smith says.

July 17, 2012 Oklahoman
Prisoners doing time at the North Fork Correctional Facility in western Oklahoma soon will be headed home to California. All of the inmates incarcerated at the privately owned facility are from the Golden State, which has been sending prisoners to Oklahoma for years to ease overcrowding. The prison, with a capacity to house more than 2,000 inmates, was built in the late 1990s by Corrections Corporation of America. All of the California prisoners are expected to be gone by the end of 2013. If the prison shuts down — as it did in 2003 amid a phone call billing dispute with Wisconsin inmates — it means the loss of Sayre's largest employer. Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the state of California currently has 9,300 inmates doing time out of the state. At its peak, there were 10,400, she said. “This is going to happen by attrition,” Thornton said. “So, as of now, we will stop transporting inmates to out-of-state prisons.” Thornton said the removal of the inmates has nothing to do with a riot that erupted at North Fork in October, leaving dozens of inmates injured.

July 13, 2012 AP
The California Department of Corrections plans to withdraw its inmates out of a private Oklahoma prison where a brawl took place last year. California corrections spokeswoman Dana Simas told radio station KECO Friday that all 2,323 inmates are scheduled to be removed from the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre by December 2013. The prison is operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. At least 46 inmates received medical treatment after prisoners fought at the facility in October. One inmate was stabbed, but no staff members or law enforcement officers were injured. Company officials told the station it's too early to tell whether any of the 400 jobs at the facility will be affected. If there are reductions, officials will first leave vacant positions unfilled before cutting the staff.

May 4, 2012 Oklahoman
An October riot at a private prison in Sayre that left dozens of inmates injured has yielded a 2,700-page report and could lead to several new felony cases being filed in Beckham County. Mike Machak, a spokesman for the private North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, said 19 inmates involved in the Oct. 11 riot could face “attempted murder” charges, although such a crime doesn't exist in Oklahoma. The riot, which is still somewhat shrouded in mystery, left 46 prisoners injured. Sixteen of those were injured badly enough to be taken to local hospitals. Three prisoners were in critical condition, prison officials said shortly after the melee. Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs North Fork, is based in Tennessee and has prisons sprinkled across the country. In a prepared statement to The Oklahoman, Machak said that “violence between security threat groups is a challenge for every prison system,” although he didn't answer questions about which prison gangs were involved in the riot. All of the prisoners housed at North Fork are from California, which began transferring inmates out of state in 2007 to ease overcrowding. Dennis Smith, district attorney for Beckham County, said he has an experienced prosecutor analyzing the massive report submitted by the prison company but hesitated to confirm that 19 inmates would be charged with serious violent felonies related to the riot. He said the prosecutor also has spent considerable time viewing video footage of the riot during the course of the lengthy investigation. “First of all, we don't even have ‘attempted murder' in Oklahoma ... we have similar charges but not ‘attempted murder' like his statement says,” Smith said. “I believe that charges will be filed, but we have to go through each one and make sure they can be prosecuted.” Smith, who is the district attorney for five counties in western Oklahoma, said his offices are short-staffed and he didn't know when charges would be filed. “It's a lot of information to look at — 2,700 pages is a lot,” Smith said. “My biggest murder case was something like 500 pages, if that tells you anything.” In addition to California prisoners, Machak said inmates from Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont have been housed at the prison over the past 12 years. Lawsuit offers look inside -- A lawsuit filed in federal court by a California inmate being housed at the North Fork Correctional Facility could shed some light on what happened during the October riot. Melvin Fisher filed the lawsuit against the prison's warden, a guard and a California prison system administrator, court documents show. According to the lawsuit, Fisher, who is black, is claiming that the warden of the prison didn't afford him adequate protection by allowing large groups of Sureno gang members to populate the prison. The inmate claims these Hispanic gang members are “troublemakers” and outnumber blacks five to one at North Fork. Fisher claims he broke his nose during the Oct. 11 riot when he and three other black inmates were attacked in a gym by dozens of Sureno gang members. Fisher said the guard named in the lawsuit held the door leading out of the gym closed with her foot, causing him to run into it and break his nose. “We started yelling through the door for her to let us out,” Fisher wrote in the lawsuit. “Finally, she let the door go after the response team instructed her to do so and come to their safety net.” A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administrator also is named in the lawsuit because she allowed “Northern Mexicans” to be transferred out of North Fork and be replaced by Sureno gang members. “They both knew that by increasing the numbers of Sureno Mexicans, (it) would give them power over other races of inmates,” Fisher wrote. “They both knew that it was an excessive risk of a riot happening.”

January 14, 2012 Oklahoman
A lack of charges filed against inmates involved in an Oct. 11 riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility highlights an ongoing issue between private prisons and authorities, a local prosecutor said. More than three months after the riot, private prison officials have yet to release details about what exactly caused the melee. The nature of the injuries suffered by dozens of inmates also remains a mystery. “When you're dealing with a private entity like that, you're kind of at their mercy,” Beckham County District Attorney Dennis Smith said. “We keep being told that they're going to present charges, but they're just taking time to do it.” Mike Machak, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said the company had nothing to report as of Wednesday and “any criminal charges brought against inmates would be managed by the Beckham County district attorney office.” Machak said “there are no arbitrary time frames” for wrapping up the investigation and that sharing details of the inquiry “could pose a risk to both inmates and staff.” “Any disclosure of information must be weighed against that important consideration,” he said. Smith acknowledged the challenges of investigating a prison riot, including having to deal with uncooperative witnesses, and said he'd rather “them get it right than do it fast.” “It has been a while,” he said. “But again, there's not a whole lot we can do.” Prison houses out-of-staters -- The riot at the private prison in Sayre, which houses more than 2,000 prisoners from California, sent 16 inmates to the hospital with injuries and required the assistance of local law enforcement agencies to quell the melee. Ralph Jackson, public information officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said weapons found at the scene were “weapons of opportunity,” including mops and broom handles. Shortly after the riot broke out, Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay said it was the worst one he'd seen at the medium-security prison.

December 10, 2011 Oklahoman
Nearly a month after a riot that injured inmates at a private prison in western Oklahoma, prison officials say they do not have a cause that they can release. They will say that 16 of the inmates who were hospitalized after the riot have since been released, but they won't say what types of injuries they suffered in the Oct. 11 melee. Mike Machak, spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America, said it's too early to release details on the riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility. “While we are not aware of any criminal charges that have been filed, we do know that the Sayre Police Department's investigation is ongoing,” Machak said. “To that end, we do not want to release details that might undermine those ongoing efforts.” Sayre Police Chief Ronnie Harrold said he has yet to receive anything from the prison regarding the riot. He said he thinks something is close to happening, but that the prison corporation has “been giving us the runaround.” “It's coming close to the point where we would expect for them to turn it over to us,” Harrold said. “At some point, if they want charges filed, they'll have to turn it over to us.” Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot erupted just before noon, and the help of local law enforcement agencies was required to subdue the prisoners. In addition to the 16 inmates who required hospitalization, another 30 were treated at a medical facility at the prison, she said. Deherrera said no prison staff members or assisting law enforcement officers were injured. The more than 2,000 prisoners held at the private prison are from California. Machak said inmates from Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont have been housed at the prison over the past 12 years.

October 18, 2011 AP
Four inmates who were injured in a prison riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility last week remain hospitalized. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Mike Machak (MAY'-chak) said Tuesday the prisoners were still being treated at area hospitals. Machak said he couldn't elaborate on the inmates' medical conditions. A total of 46 inmates were hurt during the riot between prisoners from California. Thirty were treated by prison medical staff and 16 initially were hospitalized. Machak said an investigation into the cause of the riot is still under way and no disciplinary action has been taken. He also said none of the inmates have been returned to California.

October 13, 2011 Oklahoman
Eight inmates injured during Tuesday's riot at a private prison in this western Oklahoma town remain hospitalized, although the extent of their injuries is unclear. Mike Machak, spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said federal privacy laws prevent his company from releasing the medical conditions of the inmates. He also declined to say why the riot started, citing the ongoing investigation. The inmates being housed at the North Fork Corrections Facility are from California. The facility remained locked down on Wednesday. Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot erupted just before noon Tuesday and required the help of local law enforcement agencies to subdue the prisoners. Sixteen inmates were taken to hospitals and another 30 were treated at a medical facility at the prison, she said.

October 12, 2011 KFOR TV
There were no deaths, no escapes and no staff members hurt. But there was certainly a lot of stress and fear in Beckham County when a prison riot broke out there Tuesday afternoon. Uncontrolled fights all over the grounds left 46 prisoners injured. Many of them had to be taken to the hospital and at last check, three were still listed in critical condition Wednesday night. North Fork Correctional Facility is a private prison housing only male inmates from California. While covering the the riot Tuesday, KFOR discovered a lot of people are weary of the setup there. Local law enforcement and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections only steps in in a time of crisis. They really have no control over the facility. Now the fighting is over and the prisoners are locked away in their cells. The investigation into what exactly caused the riot will go on for days just like the talk in town. Laurie Fairless lives in Sayre. She said, "I just don't like the prison out there. Never will." She's been against the medium security private prison for some time. She said, "It's scary because you are out in the country and stuff so, you know, you never know somebody might go up to your house and break into your house or whatever. They could do something to you." Beth Mullen just moved into town. She faces her fear of the correctional facility with humor. She said, "You never know. They might escape and something might happen. I have nieces and nephews and a little sister so it kind of scares me, but my uncle has a gun so it's all good." Then there's Nathan Courtney. He lives only a mile from the facility and said it doesn't bother him. Courtney says, "I don't care either way. It's jobs for the people who work out there." We've learned the warden invited the Beckham County Sheriff out to look at the extensive damage to the prison grounds. Sheriff Scott Jay said he hopes to do that in the next few days. A spokesman with the owner of the prison, the Corrections Corporation of America said, "While working on recruitment and retention, all mandatory posts necessary for security are filled."

October 12, 2011 CNN
A total of 46 inmates were injured during a prison riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility in western Oklahoma, but there were no fatalities, prison officials said Wednesday. Multiple fights had broken out in the 2,500-bed facility on Tuesday, but order was restored and the facility was completely locked down, according to a statement by Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison. As of Wednesday there were no reports of staff injuries, CCA said. Regarding the injuries, 16 inmates were transported to facilities outside the prison for treatment, including one who has already returned to the facility. Another 30 inmates were treated on-site by medical staff, CCA said. While the riot was taking place, a morgue was set up in a tent outside the prison, though there were no fatalities. Aerial video of the scene from CNN affiliate KOCO showed armed officials holding prisoners at gunpoint.

October 12, 2011 Oklahoman
Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay said Tuesday's riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility is the worst he has heard about since the private prison opened in 1999. When he arrived at the scene, Jay said. “We saw mass fighting all over the yard.” Sixteen inmates were taken to area hospitals to be treated for injuries, according to a statement released about 8 p.m. by the operator of the private prison, Corrections Corp. of America. One had been returned to the prison by evening. The statement also said that 30 inmates were treated at the facility. No staff injuries were reported, the statement said. Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot broke out about 11:45 a.m. at the medium-security facility that houses inmates from California. Officers contained riot -- Jay said he saw weapons in use by the brawling inmates, but he couldn't identify what they were. Knowing prison culture, Jay said, he would speculate they were homemade weapons. Smaller incidents have happened at the prison, Jay said, but he was only aware of one other time when local law officers were called in to help. Officers from the Beckham County Sheriff's Department, and the Sayre and Elk City Police Department, as well as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, helped contain the riot. Ambulance crews from nearby towns such as Elk City and Erick provided medical care. At 5 p.m., after as many as a dozen patients had been taken to the hospital, seven ambulances remained lined up outside the gates. Jay said at least 11 ground ambulance runs were made from the prison. Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said at least two injured prisoners were taken by medical helicopter to Midwest Regional Medical Center. Midwest City police were asked to provide security until prison employees arrived, Clabes said. Inmates also were airlifted to OU Medical Center, a spokesman said, but he referred further questions to corrections authorities. “Right now, we don't know if this was racially motivated, or they had a beef with the facility or what,” Jay said. Deherrera did not release any information about a possible reason for the riot. Sayre police escorted ambulances to the Sayre hospital, and Elk City police provided security for ambulances that took injured inmates to the hospital in Elk City, Sayre Police Chief Eddie Holland said. “We'll be here as long as it takes,” Holland said about 4 p.m. “Right now, the whole place is a crime scene.” Relatives concerned -- Relatives of prison employees, gathered at the county barn about two miles away shortly after the riot broke out, spent the afternoon pacing and waiting for their cellphones to ring. A Beckham County dispatcher said local law officers and ambulance crews were called about 11:50 a.m. to assist in the riot at 1605 E Main St. Bill Barrett, spokesman for Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City, said multiple patients were taken to that hospital. Deherrera said public safety was never threatened. She did not say how long it took the staff to contain the riot. Dale Denwalt, a reporter for the Daily Elk Citian, said a sheriff's deputy provided details about the riot to the waiting relatives. A source inside the prison said 530 people are employed there but did not release numbers on how many were at work when the riot broke out. Louis Thompson, 20, of Elk City, said his mother, Cherie, is a correctional officer with CCA. He said he heard about the riot from his sister and was pacing across the street from the prison throughout the afternoon, worrying about his mother's safety. “She said they had a couple of small riots, but nothing very big,” Thompson said. “She said she could feel something was about to happen, and it did. I just hope she's all right.”

October 11, 2011 AP
Widespread fighting broke out at an Oklahoma prison Tuesday between black and Hispanic California inmates, sending at least 21 inmates to the infirmary or hospitals before police and prison guards were able to restore order, authorities said. The fighting began shortly before noon at the North Fork Corrections Facility, a privately run medium-security prison in Sayre that houses 2,381 inmates from California. Greg Williams, an official with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, told The Associated Press that the fighting appeared to have been between black and Hispanic inmates, but he didn't know if it was gang-related. No staff members or law enforcement officers were hurt, but 14 inmates were treated at the prison infirmary and seven others were taken to a hospital, Williams said. At least one inmate had been stabbed, he said.

October 11, 2011 Tulsa World
Law enforcement agencies responded Tuesday to a disturbance at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, officials said. The private prison is run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America and houses offenders from California. At 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, prison staff responded to multiple inmate fights in various areas of the facility, according to Steve Owen, CCA senior director of public affairs. By 3:30 p.m., the fighting had ceased, Owen said. "Facility management and staff are in the process of systematically going through every area of the facility to secure inmates in those areas and to identify inmates requiring medical treatment for injuries," he said. Multiple inmates were being treated at the prison for various injuries. Five inmates had been taken to area hospitals for further treatment, Owen said. No staff were reported injured; no one was taken hostage; and no offenders escaped, Owen said. As a precautionary measure, the facility's special operations response team was activated, along with additional teams and support staff from other CCA facilities. The facility was placed on lock down, Owen said. "More information is pending further investigation and will be released as it becomes available," he said. Joyce Jackson, Oklahoma Department of Corrections communications director, said she had little information about the situation. "Basically, there is supposed to be a disturbance with approximately 80 to 90 Hispanic offenders and they have barricaded themselves in the dining area," she said. Local law enforcement had secured the perimeter of the facility, said Greg Williams, Department of Corrections administrator of field operations. Capt. Chris West, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said his agency had been contacted for assistance. Officials from the Sayre Police Department and Beckham County Sheriff's did not respond to requests for comment. The facility is medium security and houses males. It has 2,500 beds.

July 11, 2009 KLEW TV
The Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) announced that it has completed the transport of 188 inmates from an Oklahoma prison to Idaho, signaling an end to the department’s four-year practice of renting out-of-state beds to ease overcrowding. “This is a milestone for the department and something the people of Idaho can truly celebrate,” said IDOC Director Brent Reinke, in a news release from the department. “We’re saving taxpayer dollars, and in the long run, making our communities safer.” IDOC said the return of the inmates is made possible, in part, by the opening of 628 new beds at Idaho Correctional Center (ICC). It will cost $40.00 a day to house one inmate at ICC versus $61.53 at North Fork Correctional Facility (NFCF) in Sayre, Oklahoma. As a result, IDOC will save $1.4 million in Fiscal Year 2010.

June 22, 2009 AP
Another batch of Idaho prisoners has returned to the state after spending time in an Oklahoma prison. Officials with the Idaho Department of Corrections says another 68 inmates have been transferred back to Idaho from a private prison in Sayre, Okla. Two buses with the prisoners arrived in Boise Monday. The latest shipment leaves the department with just 120 inmates housed in out-of-state lockups. Those inmates are slated to return to Idaho by the end of the summer. Idaho has been relying on out-of-state prisons in Oklahoma and Texas to house inmates for several years. But the state has been able to bring many back in the last year due to a declining prison population and the creation of new prison beds at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.

March 25, 2009 AP
The legislative budget-writing committee on Tuesday approved a plan to cut the Idaho Department of Correction 2010 budget by almost $30 million, in part by bringing home the last Idaho inmates housed in other states. Idaho began shipping inmates out of state, most recently starting in 2005, after a federal judge ruled that overcrowded conditions here were dehumanizing. Since then, the state has built 628 beds at the Idaho Correctional Center in Boise and bolstered drug court programs and treatment to try to slow prison growth. By next spring, more than 1,000 new beds will be available in prisons across the state. Over the last eight months, the state has transferred 380 inmates back to Idaho prisons. As of February, Idaho had more than 7,226 people incarcerated. Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said Tuesday that with the overcrowding issues resolved, Idaho can bring the last 318 prisoners home by August. The inmates are currently at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla.

October 30, 2008 Magic Valley Times-News
An Idaho Department of Correction Virtual Prison Program inmate was charged a week ago with the second-degree murder of another Idaho inmate for an alleged attack at a private prison in Sayre, Okla. Inmate Aren Dean Wight, 31, allegedly struck or hit Idaho inmate David Drashner in Drashner's cell at Northfork Correctional Facility run by Corrections Corporation of America on June 25. He was charged Oct. 22 in Beckham County District Court in Oklahoma. Oklahoma law enforcement authorities allege Drashner's death resulted from a non-premeditated attack. He was pronounced dead later that night at a Sayre hospital. Drashner was found on the floor of his cell, according to the only June IDOC press release issued concerning him. Drashner was allegedly attacked twice after he told Wight and another inmate to "act like adults" and not yell at a female corrections officer, Oklahoma court records show. Wight's cellmate allegedly told police Wight was "thumping" on Drashner, and he heard a "thud" come from Drashner's cell, according to Oklahoma court records. Drashner died from a right subdural hematoma - intracranial bleeding caused from an injury to the right side of the skull - Oklahoma court records show. About an hour and a half elapsed between when Wight went into Drashner's cell and when officers found him on the ground. Video from the privately run facility shows Wight went into Drashner's cell at about 6:07 p.m. Drashner was found by authorities at 7:35 p.m., Oklahoma Court records show. Wight also allegedly gave Drashner a bloody nose earlier on the same day at 3:15 p.m., according to Oklahoma court records. DOC didn't issue a press release about the charges. "We rely on the local jurisdiction to announce that," said Jeff Ray, IDOC spokesman. IDOC also didn't tell Drashner's wife, Pam Drashner, of Nampa, that anyone was officially charged with killing her husband, she said. "They forgot about me," Drashner said about IDOC. "They haven't called me back." Ray said he doesn't know if IDOC routinely informs spouses of murdered inmates when other inmates have been charged. Wight is doing time for burglary, robbery, aggravated battery and grand theft crimes out of Bannock and Bingham counties, and is next eligible for parole in 2012, according to IDOC online offender information. IDOC put Drashner in Oklahoma in September 2007. He was doing 12 to 20 years for a fourth DUI conviction out of Canyon County. Pam Drashner, like other family members of out-of-state inmates, wants the state to stop shipping prisoners out of Idaho. "I honestly believe if Dave was still here in Idaho he'd still be alive," she said. "I think anytime you move someone it's going to cause a lot of anxiety and stress for everybody." An IDOC Virtual Prison Program official was in Oklahoma "performing assessments" when Drashner, died and also helped investigate.

October 1, 2008 AP
For a decade, Idaho has been shipping some of its prisoners to out-of-state prisons, dealing with its ever-burgeoning inmate population by renting beds in faraway facilities. But now some groups of prisoners are being brought back home. Idaho Department of Correction officials are crediting declining crime rates, improved oversight during probation, better community programs and increased communication between correction officials and the state's parole board. The number of Idaho inmates has more than doubled since 1996, reaching a high of 7,467 in May. But in the months since then, the population has declined to 7,293 -- opening up enough space that 80 inmates housed in the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., and at Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas, could be bused back to the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise. The inmates arrived Monday night. Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke hailed their arrival as one of the benefits the system was reaping after years of work. "It's more about having the right inmates at the right place at the right time," Reinke said. "People are communicating better and we're working together better than we were in the past."

September 26, 2008 Magic Valley Times-News
An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation official on Thursday confirmed that an Idaho inmate was murdered in the custody of a privately-run prison in Sayre, and they're eyeing a suspect. The suspect's name, however, isn't being released without an arrest or charges, said OSBI Spokeswoman Jessica Brown. Brown said she doesn't know when that may happen. Idaho Virtual Prison Inmate David Drashner, 51, of Nampa, was found lying on the floor of his cell in June at the Northfork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla. He was in prison for drunken driving and is one of three Idaho inmates who have died in the custody of private lockups in other states since March 2007. He was the first this year. On Aug. 18, Twin Falls native Randall McCullough, 37, apparently killed himself at the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas. IDOC has said they're waiting on results from his autopsy. Sex-offender Scott Noble Payne, 43, killed himself in March 2007 at a Geo lockup in Dickens, Texas. The Littlefield lockup is run by Geo Group Inc., and the Sayre facility is run by Corrections Corporation of America. CCA also runs the state-owned Idaho Correctional Center in Boise. Almost 10 percent of Idaho's prisoner population is doing time at lockups outside Idaho under contracts with private prison operators, because there's not enough room for them here. Idaho Department of Correction developed the Virtual Prison Program last year to monitor out-of-state inmates and contracts. Its role in the investigation isn't clear. "IDOC is cooperating with the investigation, but I do not know precisely what the department is doing," said IDOC Spokesman Jeff Ray in an e-mail. Ray wouldn't say if a suspect has been identified in connection to Drashner's death. "That's best left to the authorities in Oklahoma who are conducting the criminal investigation," he said in an e-mail. Drashner's widow, Pam, said she's happy there's a suspect in her husband's death. "I'm really glad they found the person, but it still doesn't bring Dave back. I just want some sort of justice to happen," she said. "If he was here in Idaho he would have never been killed." Other family of Idaho Virtual Prison inmates have also said they think Idaho should stop sending prisoners to other states, because they can't visit as easily.

September 21, 2008 Times-News
Pam Drashner visited her husband every weekend in prison, until she was turned away one day because he wasn't there. He had been quietly transferred from Boise to a private prison in Sayre, Okla. She never saw him again. In July, she went to the Post Office to pick up his ashes, mailed home in a box. He died of a traumatic brain injury in Oklahoma, allegedly assaulted by another inmate. David Drashner was one of hundreds of male inmates Idaho authorities have sent to private prisons in other states. About 10 percent of Idaho's inmates are now out-of-state. The Department of Correction say they want to bring them all home, they simply have no place to put them. Drashner, who was convicted of repeat drunken driving, is one of three Idaho inmates who have died in the custody of private lockups in other states since March 2007, and was the first this year. On Aug. 18, Twin Falls native Randall McCullough, 37, apparently killed himself at the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas. McCullough, serving time for robbery, was found dead in his cell. IDOC officials say he left a note, though autopsy results are pending. His family says he shouldn't have been in Texas at all. "Idaho should step up to the plate and bring their prisoners home," said his sister, Laurie Williams. Out of Idaho -- Idaho has so many prisoners scattered around the country that the IDOC last year developed the Virtual Prison Program, assigning 12 officers to monitor the distant prisons. In 2007 Idaho sent 429 inmates to Texas and Oklahoma. This year; more than 700 - and by one estimate it could soon hit 1,000. But officials say they don't know exactly how many inmates may hit the road in coming months. The number may actually fall due to an unexpected drop in total prisoner head-count, a turnabout attributed to a drop in sentencings, increased paroles and better success rates for probationers. The state will also have about 1,300 more beds in Idaho, thanks to additions at existing prisons. State officials say bringing inmates back is a priority. "If there was any way to not have inmates out-of-state it would be far, far better," said IDOC Director Brent Reinke, a former Twin Falls County commissioner, noting higher costs to the state and inconvenience to inmate families. Still, there's no end in sight for virtual prisons, which have few fans in state government. "I do think sending inmates out-of-state is counter-productive," said Rep. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, a member of the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee. LeFavour favors treatment facilities over prisons. "We try to make it (sending inmates out-of-state) a last resort, but I don't think we're doing enough." Even lawmakers who favor buying more cells would like to avoid virtual lockups. "It's more productive to be in-state," said Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee, who said he would support a new Idaho prison modeled after the state-owned but privately run Idaho Correctional Center (ICC). "We don't want to stay out-of-state unless we have to
��- It's undesirable." A decade of movement -- Idaho has shipped inmates elsewhere for more than a decade, though in some years they were all brought home when beds became available at four of Idaho's state prisons. The 1,500-bed ICC - a state-owned lockup built and run by CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) - also opened in 2000. But that wasn't enough: "It will be years before a substantial increase in prison capacity will allow IDOC to bring inmates back," the agency said in April. In 2005, former IDOC director Tom Beauclair warned lawmakers that "if we delay building the next prison, we'll have to remain out-of-state longer with more inmates," according to an IDOC press release. That year inmates were taken to a Minnesota prison operated by CCA, where Idaho paid $5 per inmate, per day more than it costs to keep inmates in its own prisons. "This move creates burdens for our state fiscally, and can harden our prison system, but it's what we must do," IDOC said at the time. "Our ability to stretch the system is over." Attempts to add to that system have largely failed. Earlier this year Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter asked lawmakers for $191 million in bond authority to buy a new 1,500-bed lockup. The Legislature rejected his request, but did approve those 1,300 new beds at existing facilities. Reinke said IDOC won't ask for a new prison when the next Legislative session convenes in January. With a slow economy and a drop in inmate numbers, it's not the time to push for a new prison, he said. Still, recent projections for IDOC show that without more prison beds here, 43 percent of all Idaho inmates could be sent out-of-state in 2017. "It's a lot of money to go out-of-state," Darrington said. Different cultures -- One of eight prisons in Idaho is run by a private company, as are those housing Idaho inmates in Texas and Oklahoma. The Bill Clayton Detention Center in Texas is operated by the Geo Group Inc., which is managing or developing 64 lockups in the U.S., Australia and South Africa. The North-Fork Correctional Facility in Oklahoma is owned and operated by CCA, which also has the contract to run the Idaho Correction Center. CCA houses almost 75,000 inmates and detainees in 66 facilities under various state and federal contracts. Critics of private prisons say the operators boost profits by skimping on programs, staff, and services. Idaho authorities acknowledge the prisons make money, but consider them well-run. "Private prisons are just that - business run," Idaho Virtual Prison Program Warden Randy Blades told the Times-News. "It doesn't mean out-of-sight, or out-of-mind." Yet even Reinke added that "I think there's a difference. Do we want there to be? No." The Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations (APCTO) says on its Web site that its members "deliver reduced costs, high quality, and enhanced accountability." Falling short? Thomas Aragon, a convicted thief from Nampa, was shipped to three different Texas prisons in two years. He said prisons there did little to rehabilitate him, though he's up for parole next year. "I'm a five-time felon, all grand theft and possession of stolen property," said Aragon, by telephone from the ICC. "Apparently I have a problem and need to find out why I steal. The judge said I needed counseling and that I'd get it, and I have yet to get any." State officials said virtual prisons have a different culture, but are adapting to Idaho standards. "We're taking the footprint of Idaho and putting it into facilities out-of-state," Blades said. Aragon, 39, says more programs are available in Idaho compared to the Texas facilities where he was. Like Aragon, almost 70 percent of Idaho inmates sent to prison in 2006 and 2007 were recidivists - repeat IDOC offenders - according agency annual reports. GEO and CCA referred questions about recidivism to APCTO, which says only that its members reduce the rate of growth of public spending. Aragon said there weren't enough case-workers, teachers, programs, recreational activities and jobs in Texas. Comparisons between public and private prisons are made difficult because private companies didn't readily offer numbers for profits, recidivism, salaries and inmate-officer ratios. During recent visits to the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas - where about 371 Idaho inmates are now held - state inspectors found there wasn't a legal aid staffer to give inmates access to courts, as required by the state contract. Virtual Prison monitors also agreed with Aragon's assessment: "No programs are offered at the facility," a state official wrote in a recently redacted Idaho Virtual Prison report obtained by the Times-News. "Most jobs have to do with keeping the facility clean and appear to be less meaningful. This creates a shortage of productive time with the inmates. "Overall, recreational activities are very sparse within the facility ��- Informal attempts have been made to encourage the facility to increase offender activities that would in the long run ease some of the boredom that IDOC inmates are experiencing," according to a Virtual Prison report. The prison has since made improvements, the state said. Only one inmate case manager worked at Bill Clayton during a recent state visit, but the facility did increase recreation time and implemented in-cell hobby craft programs, Virtual Prison reports show. Other inmate complaints have grown from the way they have been sent to the prisons. Inmates describe a horrific bus ride from Idaho to Oklahoma in April in complaints collected by the American Civil Liberties Union in Boise. The inmates say they endured painful and injurious wrist and ankle shackling, dangerous driving, infrequent access to an unsanitary restroom and dehydration during the almost 30-hour trip. "We're still receiving a lot of complaints, some of them are based on retaliatory transfers," said ACLU lawyer Lea Cooper. IDOC officials acknowledge that they have also received complaints about access to restrooms during the long bus rides, but they maintain that most of the inmates want to go out-of-state. Many are sex offenders who prefer the anonymity associated with being out-of-state, they said. Unanswered questions -- Three deaths of Idaho interstate inmates in 18 months have left families concerned that even more prisoners will come home in ashes. "We're very disturbed about...the rate of Idaho prisoner deaths for out-of-state inmates," Cooper said. It was the razor-blade suicide of sex-offender Scott Noble Payne, 43, in March 2007 at a Geo lockup in Dickens, Texas that caught the attention of state officials. Noble's death prompted Idaho to pull all its inmates from the Geo prison. State officials found the facility was in terrible condition, but they continue to work with Geo, which houses 371 Idaho inmates in Littlefield, Texas, where McCullough apparently killed himself. Noble allegedly escaped before he was caught and killed himself. Inmate Aragon said he as there, and that Noble was hog-tied and groaned in pain while guards warned other inmates they would face the same if they tried to escape. Private prison operators don't have to tell governments everything about the deaths at facilities they run. The state isn't allowed access to Geo's mortality and morbidity reports under terms of a contract. Idaho sent additional inmates to the Corrections Corporation of America-run Oklahoma prison after Drashner's husband died in June. IDOC officials said an Idaho official was inspecting the facility when he was found. IDOC has offered few details about the death. "The murder happened in Oklahoma," said IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray, adding it will be up to Oklahoma authorities to charge. Drashner said her husband had a pending civil case in Idaho and shouldn't have been shipped out-of-state. She says Idaho and Oklahoma authorities told her David was assaulted by another inmate after he verbally defended an officer at the Oklahoma prison. Officers realized something was wrong when he didn't stand up for a count, Drashner said. "He was healthy. He wouldn't have been killed over here," she said.

July 19, 2008 The Oklahoman
The North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre was on lockdown after a fight Friday morning.  Officials at the 2,599-bed private prison said a fight broke out among inmates about 5:30 a.m. Friday in the dining hall. Six inmates were seen for slight abrasions.

May 24, 2008 The News Tribune
Four Washington prison inmates who were shipped out of state because of overcrowding are under investigation for allegedly assaulting prison workers in Oklahoma on Thursday. The attacks took place at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Oklahoma, a private prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America. Washington has 304 of its inmates serving time in that prison, part of the 1,160 total number of inmates who are now out of state, said Washington prison official Gary Bohon. A prison officer and sergeant were injured, treated at a hospital and released, said a CCA spokeswoman. The four offenders were placed in segregation. Washington also has offenders housed in Arizona and Minnesota to prevent overcrowding in Washington’s 15 prisons, where the population is more than 17,000, including work-release centers. Washington’s Department of Corrections plans to bring back a small number of offenders in the next six to eight weeks, Bohon said. And the state remains on track to bring back all of the out-of-state inmates by the end of 2009. That’s when a bigger prison at Coyote Ridge in Eastern Washington is expected to be fully operational. Bohon said the four inmates could be sent back to Washington or could face local charges as a result of the attacks.

February 22, 2008 The Denver Channel
The Colorado Department of Corrections has sent two investigators to an Oklahoma prison to probe whether correctional officers staged ‘ultimate fights’ among prisoners and rewarded the fight's winner with a cell phone, corrections sources told CALL7 Investigators. The DOC inspector general's staff traveled this week to the privately owned North Folk Correctional Facility at Sayre, Okla., about 130 miles west of Oklahoma City, to investigate the complaint of ‘ultimate fighting,’ sources said. It was unclear Friday whether the details of the complaint have been substantiated. DOC Executive Director Ari Zavaras, in a phone conversation with CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski, confirmed investigators were sent out to Oklahoma. "There is an ongoing investigation and we do not comment until the investigation is complete," he told Kovaleski. The facility is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America and houses about 480 Colorado inmates on a contract basis. CCA also owns the Crowley County Correctional Facility, which came under DOC scrutiny in 2004 after a riot. The DOC report criticized the "lack of responsiveness" by private prison operators to state corrections officials. CCA also owns about 70 facilities nationwide, including four in Colorado. The Colorado facilities are Bent County Correctional Facility, Huerfano County Correctional Center, Kit Carson Correctional Center and the facility in Crowley County. DOC spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti declined to confirm any details but said introducing a cell phone into a correctional facility is a federal offense if it happened. CCA spokesman declined comment and directed questions to Sanguinetti.

February 19, 2008 Casper Star-Tribune
A state investigation determined Wyoming had no policies in place last year to track violence against inmates being housed in out-of-state prisons. The probe also found that the beating of a state inmate by other inmates at a private prison last year in Oklahoma was not thoroughly investigated. The investigation by Maj. William Moore of the Wyoming Department of Corrections found "no WDOC Policy, Procedure or Directive is in place that requires the tracking and compliance of out of state incidents to ensure that these incident (sic) are properly tracked for compliance." The investigative report, completed last fall, was recently obtained by The Associated Press under the state's public records law. The investigation was launched after an inmate was beaten last April at the private Northfork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla. Wyoming houses 375 inmates there and has paid Corrections Corporation of America nearly $12.5 million from June 2006 through December 2007 for their housing and medical care. An investigator with Corrections Corporation of America, which owns the Oklahoma prison, looked into the inmate beating and concluded there was "no institutional deficiency that may have contributed to the inmate on inmate assault." The inmate, whose name was redacted from documents released to The AP, sustained injuries in the beating and was airlifted to Oklahoma City for treatment. He later returned to the prison that day. In his report, Moore found the CCA prison investigator "conducted the most rudimentary of investigations regarding this incident and what little was accomplished focused only on the assault." Attempts to reach a spokesperson at the Oklahoma prison were unsuccessful. An official with the Wyoming Department of Corrections said the agency has taken steps to boost its monitoring of out-of-state inmates since last year's report. Wyoming has a full-time contract monitor at the Oklahoma prison and routinely sends investigative teams to the prison to look into inmate complaints, said Steve Lindly, deputy director of the Department of Corrections. Lindly said he doesn't doubt that Moore's report was accurate when it was written last year. But Lindly said state corrections officials were already independently coming to the conclusion that more oversight of out of state inmates was necessary. Lindly said his department is satisfied the Oklahoma prison now is meeting its obligation to ensure Wyoming inmates are protected from assault at the Oklahoma prison. "The warden has been responsive to our insistence that we meet the standard," Lindly said. Stephen Pevar, an ACLU lawyer, said he remains concerned about the safety of Wyoming inmates at the Oklahoma prison. His lawsuit forced security improvements at the state penitentiary in Rawlins. Last summer, U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer of Cheyenne ended five years of federal oversight of the Rawlins prison, which stemmed from the ACLU's lawsuit. The lawsuit was called the Skinner case, named after inmate Brad Skinner who was beaten by three other inmates in 1999. Although conditions have improved in Rawlins, Pevar said he's received complaints about assaults against Wyoming inmates at the Oklahoma prison. "All I can confirm is that there have been a number of very egregious assaults at these facilities to which Wyoming is sending its prisoners," Pevar said. There have been 14 confirmed inmate-on-inmate assaults last year involving Wyoming prisoners at the Oklahoma facility, according to Melinda Brazzale, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. There were 65 assaults in 2007 at the Rawlins state prison, which holds about 644 inmates, Brazzale said. Pevar said he's written to the Wyoming Attorney General's office about the state's contract with CCA. He said he's told the state that it must insist on standards limiting inmate violence, just as it requires inmates to be given adequate food, shelter and medical care. Pevar said believes the state needs to ensure Wyoming prisoners, "will be adequately protected from assault, and that the same procedures that the court held in the Skinner case were constitutionally required should likewise be adopted in these facilities that house Wyoming prisoners. And it's clear to me that they're not." Pevar also said he doesn't feel Wyoming is doing an adequate job investigating "the sufficiency of the facilities to which Wyoming is sending its prisoners." "Those facilities are doing some things that I don't think would be acceptable in Wyoming," Pevar said. Lindly said it was clear the CCA investigations into inmate violence were not as thorough as the investigations Wyoming's own staff members would conduct and noted the state is building a 700-bed prison in Torrington that will allow the department to house all its inmates in state. "We're comfortable with the process right now," Lindly said. "It's not as good as having them under your own wing, which is why we're having another prison built."

October 28, 2007 The Daily Sentinel
Nearly 400 Colorado inmates being held at a Sayre, Okla., private prison have sued their prison warden in an attempt to return to Colorado. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, 34-year-old inmate Jeremy G. Gardner, a convicted thief, argues because his crime was committed in Colorado and he was convicted in Colorado, he should be imprisoned in Colorado. According to Beckham County, Okla., District Court records, at least 380 Colorado inmates have joined in his lawsuit against North Fork Correctional Facility Warden Fred Figueroa, filing nearly identical complaints with the county court between May 14 and Oct. 19. Colorado transferred 480 inmates, including Grand Junction man Stephen Dallas Peck, to the private prison in December 2006 and January 2007. Inmates’ families have since complained that the move was not only unfair but also hindered their abilities to help rehabilitate their relatives. Peck’s complaint, which mirrors that of his peers, argued he has committed no crimes in Oklahoma; therefore, he “has been deprived of all constitutional due process rights.” Peck argues that the contract the Colorado Department of Corrections entered into with the Corrections Corporation of America is illegal, and therefore moot. “(Figueroa) should be ordered to release the petitioner … due to his complete lack of authority to detain him,” Peck’s complaint states. Officials from the North Fork Correctional Facility could not be reached for comment last week. Beckham County Associate District Judge Doug Haught consolidated the inmates’ cases last week into a single case, “because the petitioners are located at the same confinement facility, and because of the similarity of claims, the court finds that consolidation is appropriate.” Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras, Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, are scheduled to visit the Oklahoma prison today and Monday. King and McFadyen have expressed interest in bringing Peck and his peer inmates home to Colorado. “With proper oversight, a private prison is a way of leveraging tax dollars, a way of having adequate bed space and so forth,” King said. “From a policy standpoint, that adequate supervision part, in my mind, means that those prisons are in Colorado, not in Oklahoma.”

October 15, 2007 Daily Sentinel
It has been months since Roger Peck has seen his son. A year ago, Peck and his wife, Millicent, twice a month were driving more than 400 miles from Grand Junction to see their son, 47-year-old Stephen Dallas Peck, at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. But when Peck and 479 other inmates were relocated in December and January to the privately owned North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., those visits ended. “It’s almost impossible for us to get to Oklahoma, and I’m sure we’re more capable than a lot of people that have loved ones in prison,” Roger Peck said. The retired couple said their contact with their son, who was sentenced in early 2004 to 18 years in prison for felony theft and methamphetamine possession, has become relegated to brief collect calls twice a month. The Colorado Department of Correction’s decision to ship its healthiest and best behaved inmates more than 300 miles southeast of Colorado’s closest prison in Trinidad, the Pecks said, is “completely opposite” the state’s goal of promoting prisoner wellness and reducing recidivism. “They skimmed the cream to start with. They took inmates who were in relatively good health and have no violent history and were not in there for violent crime,” Roger Peck said. “So they took the cream of the crop, so to speak, and sent them to this facility whose sole purpose in life is making money.” Without their support, the Pecks said, they fear how well their son will cope with his methamphetamine addiction, which also landed him in prison in 1997. Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said in an attempt to address some of the Peck family’s concerns, he and Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras are going to visit the North Fork Correctional Facility at the end of this month. King said after he met the Peck family earlier this year, he began to wonder if Colorado was abandoning its oversight responsibilities by shipping felons out of state. “I had some real concerns about us giving up our ability, in some ways, to have oversight of these people that are Colorado citizens,” King said. “Granted they’re felons, but they’re our felons, and we have a responsibility to make sure they’re doing their time in a safe environment.” King said “outsourcing our felons” removes them from the support network of friends and family they need to transition from their criminal lifestyles and addictions back to living normal lives. Zavaras said from a purely financial standpoint, private prisons — the six in Colorado and the North Fork Correctional Facility — are a cost-effective way to deal with Colorado’s exploding corrections population. According to Department of Corrections statistics, Colorado’s inmate population has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 13,242 inmates in 2006 to 22,424 inmates this year. Nearly 5,000 of Colorado’s inmates reside in private prisons. Zavaras said sending prisoners outside Colorado is neither ideal nor fair to the inmates, but it is necessary. “Managing prisoners out of state, quite frankly, is very, very difficult for us,” Zavaras said. “If we would have had in-state beds, we wouldn’t be out of state. We’re only there as a last resort.” He said there are plans to expand two existing private, in-state prisons. As soon as those expansions are completed, he said, “We will bring them back.” Zavaras said he plans to scrutinize the Sayre, Okla., prison during his and King’s Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 visits. He said during that time he will not only speak with Colorado inmates but look into the concerns of inmates’ families. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said that ideally Colorado would pull out of private prisons, whose missions are directly contrary to reducing recidivism. McFadyen, who has 12 state and federal prisons in her southern Colorado House district, said private facilities have no reason to attempt to reintegrate felons back into society. She said private facilities see felons as possible repeat customers, so they have no incentive to decrease recidivism. Removing inmates from Colorado, she said, is an even better way for private prisons to maintain demand for their beds. “Sending an inmate out of state is almost guaranteeing they’ll come back in the system because of the lack of support,” McFadyen said. “I don’t know how an inmate succeeds when they have no support from home.”

April 1, 2007 Denver Post
If Joe Nacchio ends up in the slammer, he'd better hope it's not one run by Corrections Corporation of America, though Qwest retirees just might feel particular glee at the thought of his working most of a day to pay for a roll of toilet paper. About 480 inmates from Colorado have been transferred to CCA's North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., since December, and they're finding that hard time is a lot harder in a prison run for profit. The inmates, all culled from state prisons based on their release dates, records for compliance and nonviolent prison histories, have been rewarded for their good behavior with lousy food, fewer visits from family members, limited access to phones, delays in mail service, a lack of access to Colorado law books and prices in the prison canteen that have been jacked up in some cases to three times those in Colorado institutions. "It seems like minor stuff to people outside of prison, but it's created a real powder keg," said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Parents of inmates housed at Sayre have reported that a boycott of the commissary was organized as a prison protest, and when a guard was perceived to be harassing an inmate at lunch recently, the entire room stood in solidarity. They worry that tensions could erupt into a riot similar to what happened at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. "The guys are really upset," said Tracy Masuga, whose son was transferred to Sayre in December. Among the recent price hikes at the canteen were: peanut butter that sold for $1.48 in January now going for $2.34, AIM toothpaste jumping from $1.45 to $2.23, raisin bran going from $2.99 to $4.75, and a 25-watt light bulb going from $1.20 to $3.69. In Colorado state prisons, peanut butter is $1.80, AIM toothpaste 95 cents, and banana nut granola (the closest thing to raisin bran on the commissary list) is $2.11. Toilet paper sells for 70 cents a roll in Sayre compared with 44 cents at state-run prisons. "This might not seem like much, but we're talking about people who make literally a dollar a day," said Ann Aber, an attorney with the Colorado Public Defender's office. "It's arbitrary and inexplicable exercises of power like this that can create a really incendiary situation." Alison Morgan, chief of private prisons for the Department of Corrections, said a team from Colorado visited the Sayre facility this month and talked to about 200 inmates. Complaints about the price hikes were rampant, she said, but she insisted that the prisoners' concerns were being addressed. "The warden is looking at the commissary list and has reduced prices for about 40 items, including the price of light bulbs," she said. Steve Owen, spokesman for CCA, said that after a brief drop in purchases from the canteen around March 9, sales have returned to normal. Gary Golder, director of prisons for the DOC, said CDs of Colorado statutes are on order for use in the Sayre prison library, but delivery by the vendor has been delayed. Problems with phones, mail service and other issues will be resolved, Morgan said. As for the food, which was described as inedible by inmates two months ago and resulted in many of them reporting significant weight loss, Morgan describes it now as "fabulous." "The previous food-service manager was fired." State Rep. Buffie McFadyen said she has heard some of the complaints, and while she is concerned, focusing on things like commissary prices and phone service ignores the larger issue. "They shouldn't be there at all," said the Democrat from Pueblo West. "Sending inmates out of state is almost guaranteeing a 100 percent recidivism rate," said McFadyen, who has eight state prisons in her district. "We're taking the inmates with the best track records within our system and punishing them by sending them out of state away from their families. When inmates don't have that support system in place to help them re-enter society, it almost guarantees failure." McFadyen said this is all part of the private-prison system's business plan. "High recidivism rates ensure profits for their stockholders," she said. "There's no incentive to do what's best for inmates. They profit by having them come back into the system." Owen called such criticism "completely false." "We invest a great deal in innovative programs to rehabilitate inmates," he said. "We consider ourselves professionals." CCA receives $54 per day per Colorado inmate. The cost to keep comparable inmates in state institutions is $77 per day, Morgan said. Even at 30 percent less per inmate, CCA has delivered impressive profits to shareholders. The company racked up $105.2 million in net income in 2006. How do they do it? "The private-prison industry makes its money out of bodies and souls," McFadyen said.

September 16, 2006 The Gazette
The Colorado Department of Corrections is preparing to send as many as 1,000 inmates out of state — probably to two private lockups in Oklahoma — to alleviate crowding in state prisons. Alison Morgan, head of the DOC’s private-prison monitoring unit, would not discuss the department’s timetable for moving the inmates. Last month, she visited two Oklahoma prisons, the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton and the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, and she is in negotiations with the companies that run them. “Going out of state is inevitable,” she said Friday. The DOC has been warning lawmakers for months that it will soon run out of space, the result of longer sentences, a growing population and a multiyear budget crisis that canceled building projects. New private prisons to hold 3,776 inmates have been approved, and officials this year expressed optimism to the General Assembly that they could handle the state’s caseload by double-bunking inmates and finding unused space until the new prisons are built. It will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Colorado has sent a large number of inmates out of state. In 2004, 121 high-security inmates with gang affiliations were sent to a prison in Mississippi, but officials brought them back a year later after they were involved in a riot there.

October 13, 2003 Nearly 1,000 criminals were hauled away from here this summer, all of them incarcerated convicts, never to return. It pained nearly everyone to see them go. The exodus from this remote western Oklahoma town took with it about 225 jobs and a third of the government's revenues after a furor over the cost of inmates' phone calls led to the closing of a prison. "It's a huge blow," said Elaine Barker, the city clerk. With the prisoners gone, the operating budget this year has been chopped by a third to $2.7 million, Ms. Barker said. Plans for a new City Hall have been halted indefinitely. The city has put off renovating an old building for the Police and Fire Departments and constructing a 60-unit apartment complex to relieve the acute housing shortage. Hiring has stopped. One of five water department jobs has been cut. With nothing to build, the city construction manager has been let go. The job of economic development director has been eliminated. The city had budgeted for a full-time treasurer to succeed the part-time treasurer, who retired, but now Ms. Barker has inherited those duties. After a heady run of rebuilding and face-lifting, Sayre, about 120 miles west of Oklahoma City, is at a dead stop, all because of the collapse of its primary economic engine: a five-year-old, $35 million, red-roofed, gray-walled, privately run medium-security prison, the North Fork Correctional Facility. Over the summer, the prison management company, the Corrections Corporation of America, sent the 989 inmates, all from Wisconsin, to another of its facilities, 100 miles northeast of Sayre. Now the state-of-the-art prison in Sayre languishes in its prairie-grass setting. Sayre's travails arose from the loss of commissions it had received on prisoners' collect, long-distance telephone calls home to Wisconsin. Their families each paid about $22 for 20 minutes. Sayre collected up to 42 percent, and the contractor, AT&T, took the rest. For the fiscal year that ended in June, Sayre's share amounted to $656,000, close to the entire city budget in the years just before the prison opened. "We got ourselves into a situation where we were unable to control the outcome," Jack W. Ivester, the mayor and a lawyer, said. "Looking back, there were a couple of road signs that we missed." Sayre, population 4,114 before the inmates left, is one of about 200 rural communities in the nation, many ravaged by population declines and the loss of farms, factories and mines, that brought in prisons to bolster their economies during the 1990's. Swallowing fears about the proximity of criminals, the towns tapped into a growing population of prisoners and a shortage of prisons in many states. "To my mind," Jack McKennon, the city manager of Sayre, said two years ago while the town prospered, "there's no more recession-proof form of economic development." But in some states, growth in the number of prisoners has stalled, and some are opening new prisons so they won't have to send inmates elsewhere. Burned, Mr. McKennon says now, "It's just like a manufacturing plant that says they're going to move to China or Mexico." For a couple of years, Wisconsin pressed the corrections company, based in Nashville, for lower telephone rates. But the company, which had no say about the contract that would not expire until next November, deferred to Sayre and AT&T. City officials say that they tried to renegotiate it but that AT&T declined. "The rates we charge are no higher in Oklahoma than anywhere else," a spokesman for AT&T, Kerry Hibbs, said. The corrections company, faced with losing its contract to house the Wisconsin prisoners, moved the men to its prison in Watonga, Okla., where it holds the telephone contract and can meet the Wisconsin limit of about $8 for a 20-minute call. Sayre officials said that six and seven years ago, during the discussions about building a prison, no one — not they, the corrections company or the state of Wisconsin — raised doubts about charging inmates much higher rates than consumers pay. The fees were high, Ms. Barker said, "but in defense of the city, the contract was in place when Wisconsin signed the contract with C.C.A. to house their prisoners here." Still, Mayor Ivester said, "when Wisconsin prisoners went to Sayre, we started getting complaints." "When we received those complaints," he continued, "we conveyed them to AT&T, and that's where I think the problem was. AT&T was inflexible. On two occasions, the city went to AT&T and said, `You need to accommodate the rates with the complaints from Wisconsin.' "In both cases we were rebuffed," the mayor said. "The answer was no. A third time we went to C.C.A. and said, `We've tried. You talk to them.' C.C.A. experienced the same inflexibility we did." Bill Clausius, the spokesman for the Wisconsin prison department, said the state repeatedly pressed the corrections company to bring rates down to $1.25 to connect and 22 cents per minute, well below the Sayre rate of $3.95 to connect and 89 cents a minute. Mr. Hibbs at AT&T said: "We find it hard to believe that they would shut down the prison over telephone rates. We had no interest in shutting the prison down." Ms. Barker said, "AT&T wanted us to buy out the contract for a price of $850,000, which was way above our means." With the corrections company looking more and more determined to move the men, AT&T let Sayre out of the contract in late June at no cost to the city and washed its hands of further business here. In a statement then, AT&T said, "We wish Sayre well in finding a new phone service provider for its prison and hope that the facility and accompanying jobs will be saved." But by then Wisconsin and the corrections company had had enough, and the vans to Watonga were rolling. "Everyone tried to get those rates lowered," said Louise Green, vice president for marketing at the corrections company. "It was not done." Sayre and the corrections company, both with big stakes in the prison here, are seeking a new customer. Once they have one, Sayre could resume collecting water and sewer fees from the prison and a sales tax from the prison commissary but much less from the telephone calls. To avoid another closing, Ms. Barker said, "we're negotiating with different phone companies, and we've got some really nice proposals." Mostly, though, they would be nicer for prisoners. "It would cut our income tremendously," she said. (The New York Times)

August 15, 2003
The challenge of keeping a $17.5 million Grady County, Okla., jail out of default could become tougher now that a private prison in Sayre, 80 miles to the west, has fallen vacant.   The two detention facilities -- one built with public funds, the other private -- are expected to compete for the same inmates, including federal prisoners who bring higher daily payments for beds.   "In theory, we are in competition, not only with other companies but our public counterparts," said Steve Owen, spokesman for the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, owner of the North Fork Detention Facility in Sayre. The North Fork facility, specifically built by CCA to house inmates from Wisconsin, was forced to close last week over a long-distance telephone rate dispute. Wisconsin officials say charges for long-distance service for the 989 inmates exceeded costs spelled out in the contract between CCA and the state.   With a skeleton crew of 13 maintaining North Fork, CCA moved the Wisconsin inmates to another of its Oklahoma facilities, called Diamondback, in Watonga. While Sayre officials look for a more affordable long-distance provider, Owen said prospects for returning Wisconsin inmates to the facility are slim.   Instead, the facility will either be used for other state and federal inmates or sold to another operator.   "The company experienced its share of heartburn in speculative facilities back in the '80s and '90s," Owen said. "This management wants to take a more responsible approach."   In Chickasha, meanwhile, accountants are recommending a 20% cut in the Grady County budget to cover debt service on the 330-bed jail, which has become the subject of a grand jury investigation. (The Bond Buyer)

June 22, 2003
The immediate future looks bleak for Sayre's North Fork private prison, scheduled to close in two months over inmate phone rates.   Insiders say it's too late to work out a deal for the prison owner to keep its inmates there, and the state of Oklahoma doesn't have the money to buy the prison.  Meanwhile, the city is stuck in a five-year contract for inmate phone calls it made with AT&T, even if the prison owner, Corrections Corporation of America, moves inmates to Sayre from another state.  "This is very devastating," said Rick Moody, a captain at the prison. "We're just hoping and praying something is done."  The prison, filled exclusively with Wisconsin inmates, is the city's biggest employer. The inmates' telephone calls generate funding for the city, and the prison paid $449,000 in property taxes to the county in 2002.  Sayre negotiated for the prison's telephone rights six years ago and remains locked in a contract with AT&T that ends in November 2004. Under the agreement, Sayre received a monthly commission on revenue collected by AT&T on collect calls made by inmates. City records show those monthly commission checks have ranged from $15,000 to $92,000 in the past year.  The problem came in November, when Wisconsin renewed its contract to keep 989 inmates at the prison. Wisconsin law prohibits prisons from charging inmates more than $1.25 for a call connection fee plus 22 cents for each minute. But AT&T and Sayre had agreed to a connection charge of $3.95 and 89 cents per minute -- rates that far exceed the Wisconsin cap.  Now the city is stuck with the five-year telephone contract.  By Aug. 11, the prison's 989 inmates -- all contracted with the state of Wisconsin -- are scheduled for transfer to Corrections Corporation's 2,160-bed medium security Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga.  "We haven't given up hope," said Larry Kirkland, a North Fork prison spokesman. "We are pursuing other avenues to receive other inmates. As long as there's time, we're not going to give up hope."  But the transfer of inmates appears to be ahead of schedule.  "I spoke with (North Fork) Warden Jody Bradley recently," said state Sen. Gilmer Capps, D- Snyder. "He assured me that the Wisconsin inmates were gone."  Capps since has turned to Ron Ward, director of the Oklahoma Corrections Department, for assistance.  "I asked him if he had any inmates he could move to Sayre, but he hasn't been able to find the numbers," Capps said. "I hate to see us lose those employees."  As for any possible attempt by the state to purchase North Fork, Capps said not to count on it, given Oklahoma's sluggish economy.  "I don't think the state is interested at this time," Capps said.  State corrections spokesman Jerry Massie cut to the heart of the matter: "We're about $20 million short as it is right now."  Corrections Corporation of America spent $34.5 million to build the prison in 1998. Its market value now, according to county tax rolls, is $42.7 million, Beckham County Assessor Loretta Hill said.  Sayre Mayor Jack Ivester thinks about the 225 jobs' reported $6 million annual payroll that will vanish with the closure and wonders whether the situation can be salvaged, even at this late date.  "All I know is the city is going to pursue every option available to us to try to save the prison," he said.  He said he talks to Corrections Corporation representatives every day and has been trying to set up a meeting. But so far, no date has been finalized.  An obvious hurdle for Sayre is its contract with AT&T. The contract does not have a buyout clause or a penalty specified for breaking it. AT&T offered to let Sayre get out of its contract for $850,000, city Attorney Kent Whinery said. He said the city can't afford that much.  "The city council is going to have to make some tough decisions," Whinery said in regard to a potential buyout.  AT&T would not discuss whether the company offered to lower its charges for inmate telephone calls.  Company spokesman Kerry Hibbs said he couldn't go into details because the negotiations are private.  Meanwhile, the scramble for inmates looks grim. Forty-one of 50 states showed an increase in prison populations between July 1, 2001, and June 30, 2002, according to recent figures by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. But, as in Oklahoma, money is tight in other states.  "The inmates are out there," said a prison official who asked to remain anonymous. "But who has the money?"  Steve Owen, a Corrections Corporation of America spokesman, said eventually a customer will be located and North Fork will reopen.  "We're eager to put people back to work there," Owen said.  State Rep. Purcy Walker, D- Elk City, said he hopes so.  "It's a nice facility," Walker said.  "I can't see where CCA would be satisfied with just a little more than four years of use out there to the point where they would be willing to just move off and leave it. I would find that hard to believe.  "They say they will come back. I guess we'll just have to take their word."  (The Oklahoman)

June 22, 2003
Most inmates in Oklahoma appear to be paying less per phone call than those at the ill- fated North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre.  Corrections Corporation of America announced recently that it would close the prison because its Wisconsin prisoners were paying too much for phone calls.  Prisoners there pay a $3.95 connection fee and an 89-cent charge for each additional minute.  Inmates in state-run prisons pay a range of fees depending upon the area's provider, AT&T or SBC Communications. They pay a $3 service charge, up to 33 cents for the first minute and up to 31 cents for each additional minute for AT&T calls. SBC calls cost up to $3.90 to connect and up to 55 cents for the first minute and then up to 47 cents. Rates depend upon the distance called and time of day.  If AT&T uses subcontractor T-Netix at the facility, connect charges range from $2.15 to $5.15 and per-minute charges range from 41 cents to 89 cents.  Inmates' families complain frequently about the cost of calls, state Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said. However, phone and prison officials point out that rates are less of an issue for state-run prisons because they hold mostly Oklahoma prisoners who are less likely to be calling farther away.  The state agency requires that private prisons have comparable phone rates to those at state-run prisons. Massie said the department checks those rates in audits each year. Private prisons in Holdenville and Cushing are the same as those in Department of Corrections facilities, according to department documents.  The phone calls have long been a moneymaker for the department, private prisons and the towns that do business with private prisons.  (News Ok)

May 5, 2003
Wisconsin prison officials will travel to a privately run prison in Oklahoma today to investigate a disturbance Monday that resulted in minor injuries to a guard and about $12,000 damage to a prison kitchen.  The North Fork Correctional Institution in Sayre, Okla., still was on "lockdown" Wednesday, as prison officials tried to sort out what happened, said Steve Owen, a spokesman for the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America.  CCA houses 1,199 Wisconsin prisoners at North Fork under contract with the state.  The incident, which lasted three hours, began around 6 p.m. in a recreation yard as prisoners were moving to a dining hall.  About 146 prisoners were in the dining hall, but Owen didn't say how many may have been involved.  (Wisconsin State Journal)

July 17, 2000
Fifteen guards and one inmate were injured after a 20-minute fight broke-out between Wisconsin inmates.  Six of the guards were sent to the hospital. Teargas was needed to break up the fight and inmates were in lock-down. (The Dallas Morning News and AP, July 18, 2000)

March 19, 1999
A dispute between a Wisconsin inmate and a correctional officer in the dining hall spread to other inmates, including inmates in a housing unit. Gas was used to control the inmates. All inmates in the facility are from WI.

Oklahoma
CCA
 
August 28, 2002
An Oklahoma corrections company has agreed to pay more than $152,000 in back wages to 96 women denied employment because of their gender. Corrections Corporation of America agreed to pay the women back wages after a U.S. Department of Labor audit showed female applicants, who were equally or better qualified than men hired, were rejected.  (AP)  

Oklahoma County Jail
Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Correctional Healthcare Management
July 8, 2003
A plan by Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel to add a full-time psychiatrist and physician's assistant to the staff at the county jail was put on hold Monday by county officials.  Members of the Oklahoma Board of County Commissioners were asked Monday to approve a one-year contract with Correctional Healthcare Management of Oklahoma Inc. totaling $4,227,276 -- about $237,000 more than previously reported.  Instead of approving the contract, commissioners Stan Inman and Jack Cornett voted to delay consideration for one week, while Commissioner Jim Roth argued they should not be questioning Whetsel's judgment on what he needs to operate the jail.  Whetsel previously warned commissioners and county budget board members he expected the contract for this fiscal year, which started July 1, to go up by $828,000 to cover increased costs.  Inman, however, said he came away from that same meeting with the impression the county already is meeting minimum jail standards.  A report from the analysis has not been completed, so Inman argued Whetsel's request represents one interpretation against another.  Inman said he opposes making changes at the jail until U.S. Justice Department inspectors complete an investigation into conditions and alleged civil rights violations.  "We have nothing to go on that says we're giving substandard services at the jail," Inman said. "We have no report that says we're doing good or bad. Are we going to spend a quarter million dollars guessing what is going to be in the report?"  Inman also questioned why the contract allows automatic renewal by Whetsel and the vendor without any input from the budget board or the commission.  The contract has not been subjected to competing proposals since late 2000 when the first full one-year agreement was signed with Correctional Healthcare Management of Oklahoma Inc.  The Parker, Colo.-based company was hired in June 2000 for a six-month, $1.3 million contract. The company prevailed over three competing proposals, even though it was only three years old at the time with a customer base that included a dozen smaller jails in Colorado and Wyoming.  The company won a second round of competing bids in late 2000, beating proposals by other vendors by more than $1 million.  The company was a $500 contributor earlier this year to Whetsel's unsuccessful effort to convince voters to pass a permanent sales tax that would have doubled his department's budget.  Capt. John Waldenville, who heads the sheriff's budget office, said the department plans to submit the contract to competitive bids again for the 2005 fiscal year.  "I really have a problem with the contract itself," Inman said. "There is no provision for it to end -- it has no real end date."  (The Oklahoman)

September 7, 2002
A private company could operate the Oklahoma County jail with more accountability and maybe even less cost, a representative of a private corrections company on Thursday told a committee studying administration of the jail.  The committee was appointed by county commissioners to study whether commissioners should appoint a trust to run the jail or ask voters to approve a different kind of trust.  The committee also will decide whether to recommend commissioners contract a private company to run the jail.  Branham said CCA's new contract with a Tulsa County jail authority provides the company $46 per inmate per day.  Oklahoma County's jail- operated, like most jails across the state, by the sheriff-spends $34 a day to house its average inmate, sheriff's Capt. Rickey Barrow said after the meeting.  "You have to remember they're in the business of making money.  We can't make money, by law."  He said staff turnover at private jails is lower because those jails hire staff that want to work in corrections, while sheriff's departments often hire people whose goals are to work in law enforcement outside of jails.  He said, a contract with a private company helps contain legal costs.  It would cover costs that could be incurred by the county for tort claims and civil rights lawsuits.  "That's all accounted for," Branham said.  After Branham's presentation, the committee heard from Lee Slater, who for many years was secretary of the State Election Board.  Slater, an attorney, said no contract can insulate county officials from legal liability for what goes on in a jail.  "Dodging liability is not something the county is going to be able to do," he said.  Slater discussed the legal requirements of submitting a vote of the people the question of whether a trust authority should run the jail.  Asked if he thought a trust authority is a good idea, Slater said all studies he saw in his decades in state government concluded the state has too many boards and commissions and that spreading out responsibility among board members leads to "a lack of accountability."  (The Saturday Oklahoman)

Oklahoma Department of Corrections
July 24, 2013 sun-sentinel.com

The Boca Raton-based prison company at the center of an ill-fated attempt to put its name on FAU's football stadium now finds itself at the center of a scandal involving prisoners, a dating website and extortion. The GEO Group, which yanked its offer to pay $6 million for stadium naming rights at FAU in the wake of student protests, is being accused of lax oversight of inmates who got access to phones and used them to impersonate people on the dating site, MegaMates. Now, a gay retired high school teacher says those inmates tricked him and extorted him out of more than $600,000, his life savings, by threatening to out him to his family. Joseph Pappalardo, of East Hartford. Conn., accuses GEO Group of failing to supervise the group of inmates who blackmailed him, according to a lawsuit filed in the West Palm Beach federal courthouse. According to the suit, the Connecticut retiree ended up sending 86 payments totaling more than $670,000 between April 15 and Nov. 1, 2011 after the inmates at the Lawton Correctional Facility threatened him with death and exposure. "Our client was victimized by people he was supposed to be protected from," said Fort Lauderdale attorney Craig Pugatch, who is representing Pappalardo along with New Haven lawyer Jeffrey Hellman. The fallout was financial devastation for Pappalardo, his attorneys said. "For a school teacher, this obviously represents an enormous amount of money," Hellman said. A spokesman for The GEO Group, Inc. said the company will "vigorously defend" itself against the allegations. "As matter of policy, our company cannot comment on litigation related matters; however we can confirm that our company strongly [disputes] these allegations and intends to vigorously defend against this claim," said Pablo Paez, GEO's vice-president of corporate relations. The allegations date back to February 2011, when Pappalardo was looking to meet other men for companionship on the dating site MegaMates, which connects users by phone and Internet. Pappalardo thought he was talking to other gay men. Soon enough, the other users he met through the site started asking for money — then demanding it through threats and blackmail. Pappalardo sent money in the form of prepaid Green Dot debit cards. At the time, he had no idea he was talking to inmates, his attorneys said. Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie confirmed there is a criminal investigation into the incident. Massie declined to say what other agencies were involved in the investigation. Hellman said Pappalardo learned he had been talking to inmates in Oklahoma when he was told by federal authorities. Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut would not say whether federal officials also were investigating. GEO, with its headquarters on Northwest 53rd Street in Boca Raton, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and owns or operates 95 facilities in the United States, Britain, Australia and South Africa, according to the company's website. GEO has been no stranger to controversy in recent months. In February, a storm of protests erupted when it was announced that the company had obtained the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University's football stadium. Opponents, many of them FAU students, cited allegations of GEO mistreating inmates and employees. The company later abandoned the naming rights plan and withdrew a $6 million donation to the school.


Jun 25, 2013 sfgate.com

LEXINGTON, Okla. (AP) — The growing number of Oklahoma prison inmates will continue to pose problems like increased medical costs, a lack of bed space and a backup of offenders in the state's county jails, the Oklahoma's outgoing prison chief warned the Board of Corrections on Friday. Justin Jones, who announced earlier this week that he plans to resign after 36 years with the agency, made the comments during the board's regular meeting at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center. "We had a tremendous growth year, which is causing us many issues," Jones told the board. Jones' resignation comes after highly publicized clashes with the governor's office and legislative leaders over the agency's finances and the growing use of private prisons to house state inmates. Figures released by the Department of Corrections on Friday show the number of inmates has increased by 641 from the same time last year, and Jones said a majority of those are being sent to private prison facilities or kept in county jails through contracts with local sheriffs. The number of inmates in private prisons has increased from 4,775 in May 2012 to 5,453 at the end of last month. The private prison lobby is an influential one at the state Capitol, and many lawmakers support shifting more inmates into private facilities, a concept Jones refused to endorse. "Just because something is legal doesn't make it ethically and morally right," Jones said after the meeting. "Sometimes it's easy to privatize people that don't have a voice, and it's easy to privatize the disenfranchised of the world who don't have a voice. Sometimes there's a conflict of ideologies there." Jones also warned that giving too much leverage to the private prison industry could pose problems for the state down the road. "I think any time you get over-leveraged and you increase the percentage to the point that the provider can make certain requests or demands, whether it's a per diem increase or something else, and you have no other options, what are you going to do?" Jones said. Nearly 22 percent of Oklahoma's 26,500 inmates are currently being housed in private prisons. According to the state's contract with Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the U.S., Oklahoma pays about $58 per day for maximum-security inmates and $44 per day for medium-security inmates. The rates are slightly lower for another private prison contractor, GEO Group, said DOC spokesman Jerry Massie. The Board of Corrections voted Friday to create a three-member panel of board members to launch a national search for a new director, and new Board Chairman Kevin Gross said he expected other "interested constituents" to play a role in that process. "I think someone with the governor's office, potentially a legislator, potentially a warden or somebody inside the department who can represent the interests of the management and folks within the department," said Gross, one of Gov. Mary Fallin's five appointees on the seven-member board. Gross said he expects the search process to take several months and that whoever is selected will have to be confirmed by the state Senate once the legislative session begins in February. "We will likely consider one of the internal senior management people as interim director once Justin departs," Gross said. Jones, who earns about $132,500 a year as director, said his last day on the job will be Aug. 16.


Jun 18, 2013 tulsaworld.com

OKLAHOMA CITY - Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones is resigning effective Oct. 1. Jones made the announcement at a staff meeting Monday. His official last day is expected to be Aug. 16, followed by paid time off until his resignation effective date. Jones has run afoul of policy-makers who want to put more state inmates in private prisons. "You know, just because it is legal doesn't make it ethically and morally right for shareholders to make a profit off of incarceration of our fellow citizens," Jones said. "I guess with my Christian upbringing, there has always been a conflict with that." Also, the agency was given a standstill budget for fiscal year 2014 despite increased numbers of inmates, a large number of inmates backed up in county jails awaiting transport to prison, and a new criminal justice law that puts more requirements on the DOC. Policy-makers questioned the amounts the agency reported in its revolving funds in its budget request, and the agency denied wrongdoing. Gov. Mary Fallin recently said she reserved judgment on her confidence in Jones to run the agency. The Governor's Office said Monday that Fallin did not call for Jones to resign. "The governor appreciates Director Jones' many years of service to the state of Oklahoma," said Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Fallin. When asked directly whether he was forced out of the position, Jones said, "It is just time to turn the page and move on to another chapter in my life." Jones worked his way up through the agency, starting as a probation and parole officer in 1977 after earning a bachelor's degree that same year in sociology with a minor in communications. He has held posts ranging from regional director of institutions to deputy director of community sentencing. He served under five DOC directors before being tapped to run the agency in 2005. His job requires him to be a witness to inmate executions, which he has done about two dozen times. "It is a very surreal experience," he said. Jones, 57, said he doesn't plan to retire and will look for another job. In his long tenure with the Department of Corrections, one of the most frustrating things for him has been trying to get stakeholders to understand that corrections is not just holding people until their time has expired and they are discharged or paroled, Jones said. "We serve the disenfranchised of the world," Jones said. "We serve people who if not for their addiction or mental health would not be in prison. On the other spectrum, we serve some of the most violent and evil citizens Oklahoma has ever created." Jones has lobbied for more funds for programs to rehabilitate offenders and to increase staffing levels at state prisons, which are normally at or near capacity. One of the most difficult things for him to leave behind will be the agency's employees, he said. "They do yeoman's work, 24/7," Jones said. "That is basically true with the staffing ratios that have gone down, and they do it on a daily basis. Most citizens would be fearful to do it, and they do it with energy, vigor and dedication. It is like a family." A lot has changed in his more than three decades in corrections, Jones said. "We certainly have enhanced our professionalism," he said. "We are currently data driven, research and evidence based." The working environment is more secure, he said. Jones said he would like to find another job in Oklahoma, where he has family, but that he is willing to consider leaving the state. Jones is the latest in a list of longtime agency heads to resign or retire, including Marilyn Hughes, former executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission; Gene Christian, former Office of Juvenile Affairs executive director; and Terry Jenks, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board executive director.

17 November 2012 Melodika
Avalon Correctional Services, Inc. (CITY.PK) and Donald and Tiffany Smith announce that they and The Ravenswood Investment Company, L.P. and Ravenswood Investments III, L.P. have entered into a definitive settlement of  the derivative lawsuit titled Ravenswood Investment Company, L.P. and Ravenswood Investments III, L.P. v. Avalon Correctional Services, Inc., Tiffany Smith and Donald E. Smith , 09-CV-00070-R (W.D. Okla.). Under the terms of the settlement, Avalon will submit an offer to purchase the common shares of Avalon held by all of Avalon's non-management minority shareholders for $4.05 in cash plus the pro rata portion of the remaining amount of a fee and expense pool, if any, that is not used to pay any fees and expenses that may be awarded by the Court (an amount between $0 and $0.30 per share inclusive) and, subject to certain exceptions, a callable three-year, non-voting new preferred share of Avalon with a $1.75 face amount and an annual dividend of 7%, paid quarterly. The settlement which will resolve all claims in the litigation is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability by any of the defendants.  The settlement is subject to the approval of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma following notice to all shareholders and a hearing  as well as certain other conditions.  A motion for such Court approval was filed on November 16, 2012 and it is anticipated that any Avalon shareholders who object to the settlement will have the opportunity to be heard.  It is further anticipated that the approval process will take between 90 to 120 days although it could be longer.  If approved, the offer to purchase will be made and shareholders will have 90 days in which to accept the offer. Given the potential cost and burden of continued litigation, Avalon believes that settling this lawsuit is in the best interest of all Avalon stakeholders.  The Company is pleased to resolve this matter and put the Ravenswood derivative litigation behind it. The purpose of this press release is to make a general public announcement concerning the settlement and does not contain all of the terms and conditions of the settlement.  The definitive settlement documents are attached to the motion filed in the litigation pending in the Western District of Oklahoma on November 16, 2012.  This communication shall not constitute an offer to sell or buy or the solicitation of an offer to sell or buy any securities. 

July 31, 2012 Tulsa World
What's happening in the southwestern Oklahoma town of Sayre is a cautionary tale about community reliance on private prisons. Sayre began enjoying an economic boost several years ago when the North Fork Correctional Facility, owned by Corrections Corporation of America, received more than 2,000 inmates from California. The city enjoyed increased revenue - about $1.3 million annually to the town of 4,000. Business activity increased and employment soared. But now, California is withdrawing its inmates. The inmates were sent to Sayre in the first place because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ordered California to reduce its enormous prison population. There's confusion about how many of the more than 400 jobs linked to the private prison in Sayre will be lost. There are also questions about a riot in October, which injured 46 inmates and resulted in at least 20 charges for violent offenses. Prosecution of these cases has put a strain on the Beckham County district attorney's office. Private prisons offer a pressure valve for state prisons that are at capacity. But in some ways states become the "prisoners" of private prisons. When those companies raise rates, states must come up with extra money. If a crime program - the Justice Reinvestment Initiative - pays off in the next few years, more nonviolent inmates could be handled in the community, thus negating the need for more prisons or contracting with private prisons. If it had to do it over, Sayre probably would not turn down the economic boost of at least $1.3 million annually, nor those 400 extra jobs. But now that economic windfall is headed out of town - at least for the time-being. Take note: The state has other private prisons, which it relies upon heavily. Should it?

July 15, 2012 Tulsa World
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is struggling to come up with a $2 million legislatively mandated increase in payments to private prisons and halfway houses. Senate Bill 1988 by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, was passed in the waning days of the legislative session. "For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, the Department of Corrections shall spend an amount equal to what it spent on private prisons and halfway houses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, plus an additional $2 million," the measure says. Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones said his agency was not appropriated additional dollars for the increase in payments for private bed space, which were given effective July 1. Jolley, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, disagrees. "We gave him what we spent last year plus $2 million more to make those things happen," he said. Sears, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said Jones and Jolley are correct. He said the DOC wasn't appropriated the extra $2 million but that lawmakers let the agency tap the Oklahoma Correctional Industries Revolving Fund to come up with the money for contract increases.

August 22, 2010 The Oklahoman
More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars. Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga. "There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business." If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said. The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit. Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve. The business of incarceration -- Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said. Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security. If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract. Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau. Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said. Earnings increase -- Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation. "We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities. In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years." GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well. This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there. Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space. Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees. Displaced inmates and jobs -- Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis. There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state -- the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s. "Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more." At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected. The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona. It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again. He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted. In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.

October 28, 2009 Oklahoman
With the state Corrections Department’s funding cut 5 percent for the remainder of this fiscal year, contracts with private prisons will be cut by the same rate, a legislative leader said Tuesday. It will not result in a breach of contract, said Rep. Randy Terrill, chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee. State contracts with private prison vendors include clauses allowing for a reduction in state payments, along with a corresponding reduction in services provided during a revenue shortfall, said Terrill, R-Moore. "Private prisons have shared with the state in good times, and today private prison officials agreed it is not unreasonable that the state is now asking them to share in the tough times, as well,” Terrill said. "Under the current plan, which assumes a 5 percent reduction, about $3.5 million in state funding will be cut from private contractors, while about $22.5 million will be cut from the state prison budget for the remainder of this fiscal year,” he said.

October 21, 2009 Tulsa World
A recent prison study found that the cost of public beds is competitive with space in private prisons and may be cheaper, Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones said. The findings were released to the state Board of Corrections last week. Jones said the department is required to report rates to the board each year. "We are either less than the private per diems or extremely competitive," he said. The cost to house an inmate in a public, medium-security bed is $44.35 a day, compared with $49 for a bed in a Corrections Corporation of America lockup and $44.83 for a bed in a GEO prison, Corrections Department figures show. Jones said the public rates were calculated before the agency's most recent budget cuts, so they do not include recent cuts in contracts with private prisons. The daily cost to house an inmate in a maximum-security state prison is $63.70, compared with $64.50 in a CCA prison, the department says. Oklahoma houses 2,280 offenders in CCA prisons and 2,526 in the GEO prison in Lawton. However, Jones said the evaluation is deceiving because the state system also supports an agricultural operation and has different inmate health care costs than private prisons do. The public system does not transfer inmates with severe health problems to the private prisons, he said. "We still have costs they don't have," he said. With a growing inmate population and a reduction in staff, the department knew the public per diem rates were dropping, Jones said. The state system is at almost 98 percent capacity, forcing the use of private prison space. A CCA spokesman, Steve Owen, said he hadn't seen the analysis, so he couldn't comment specifically. But the company believes that during the 13 years it has done business with the state, it has provided value and efficiency to the department and to Oklahoma taxpayers, he said. The GEO Group said it was its policy not to comment on contract-related matters. Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, said the analysis was based on assumptions and did not appear to take into account factors that cannot be ignored. He said the state has a long history of maintaining a balance between public and private prisons. "It appears that DOC has used this analysis to justify having private prisons and halfway houses bear the entirety of the 5 percent cut ordered by the Office of State Finance and that no cuts are being imposed on public facilities," Sykes said. "At the very least, this action by DOC places the state in potential breach of contract."

October 14, 2009 Tulsa World
The Department of Corrections next month will cut its contracts with private prisons by 5 percent, the Board of Corrections was told Wednesday. Greg Sawyer, DOC chief of departmental services, said the cuts are in response to declining state revenues. State agencies on Tuesday were told to cut budgets by 5 percent. It marked the third consecutive month of cuts. Sawyer said the cut will be passed down to private prisons and halfway houses and involves about $3.7 million. The agency also plans to ask lawmakers for a supplemental appropriation, Sawyer said. The amount, however, has yet to be determined, he said. If the state's current financial picture does not improve, the agency anticipates a deficit of $9 million by the end of the current fiscal year, Sawyer said. Justin Jones, DOC director, could not immediately be reached for comment.

July 29, 2009 Tulsa World
Private prisons in Oklahoma soon could be housing maximum-security inmates from other states under a new law approved in the waning days of the 2009 legislative session. The language inserted into an omnibus corrections bill changes state policy that previously allowed only minimum- and medium-security inmates from other states to be housed in private prisons. House author Randy Terrill, R-Moore, defended the new law, saying this week that several safeguards were put in place, including a policy that allows the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to review and approve inmates and to ensure the facilities where they will be housed were designed to hold such offenders. But Judith Greene, director of the New York-based criminal justice research institute Justice Strategies, said similar policy changes in other states have had disastrous results. "I think it's a recipe for disaster," said Greene, who has analyzed criminal justice practices and private prisons for years. She said similar efforts by private prisons operating in Ohio and New Mexico in the 1990s resulted in excessive violence against guards and other inmates. "Mostly knifings and a couple of deaths," she said. "There very well should be some concerns (in Oklahoma)." But Terrill said the bill specifically prohibits maximum-security inmates with a history of escape, a felony conviction for rioting, sex offenders or those who have been sentenced to death. Texas, which has four private prisons housing out-of-state inmates, is one of the few states that allows maximum-security inmates. But inmates are screened to weed out anyone with a history of violence or other behavioral problems behind bars before they can be housed there, said Adan Munoz, director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. "We've got enough troublemakers in Texas," he said. Terrill inserted the language late in the session into a bill that authorized the Corrections Department to transfer illegal-immigrant inmates to federal authorities before they finished their sentences in Oklahoma. Terrill said the language surfaced late in the session because it involved intense negotiations among the governor's office, state House and Senate, Corrections Department, the private prison industry and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.

May 9, 2009 The Oklahoman
The state could soon have a new contract with private prisons to house Oklahoma inmates. The state Board of Corrections last week approved a request for contract proposals to house 1,920 medium-security inmates and 360 maximum-security inmates in Oklahoma. The board is expected to begin reviewing proposals next month, and a contract is scheduled to be in place by July 1. The Corrections Department is ending a five-year deal with Corrections Corporation of America. The state has contracted with CCA to keep inmates at Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. In the new request for proposals, the state Corrections Department is making changes to how it contracts with private prisons. There are currently 4,323 state inmates in private prisons, according to data from the Corrections Department. The state pays about $52.90 a day to keep an inmate in a private medium-security prison. Under a new contract, the state is requesting clauses allowing the department to end the contract for any reason or to buy a private prison. The contract termination provision was recommended by an independent evaluation completed in 2007. It looked at how the department and facilities were run, said Jerry Massie, spokesman for the Corrections Department. The new proposed contract includes an increase in mental and physical health care. Private prisons housing Oklahoma inmates also would be required to offer access to psychologists, substance abuse services and basic behavioral counseling.

December 16, 2008 Tulsa World
Taking a tougher approach, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has withheld more than $589,000 in payments to private prison operators in the past year because of staffing shortages. Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has had five payments of $40,000 or more withheld since December for failing to fill vacancies within 45 days, including several positions in the medical field. In April, the state withheld $59,191 in payments because 19 positions remained unfilled within 45 days. Among them was a clinical supervisor slot that DOC officials said had been open for 457 days. The Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville also has had about $76,000 in payments withheld since August because of staffing incidents. Both facilities are owned by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville. A company official says it has had difficulty filling medical positions because of a nationwide shortage. In addition to the money it has already withheld, the DOC has another $50,000 in fines pending for November. The DOC has withheld payments to private prisons in 28 instances since last December for failing to fill positions in a timely manner. The department's decision to penalize private prisons financially for contract violations stems from a recommendation made in a performance audit of the Department of Corrections requested last year by the Oklahoma Legislature. "The audit felt like we were giving too many warnings to private prisons and that we needed to start doing more liquidated damages," DOC Director Justin Jones said last week. An official with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which sought information on the fines, said the organization is concerned whether private prison contractors are actually fixing the problems, or simply paying the fines. Mark Beutler, director of communications, said Monday that OPEA is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will make contractors more transparent. "We believe contractors should be held more accountable in reporting violations and also in the ways they are spending taxpayers' money," Beutler said. Calling the shortage of medical personnel a problem for prisons, Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen said the company is making a good faith effort to fill its medical services vacancies as quickly as possible. Until the positions are filled, Owen said the facilities will hire part-time employees or pay overtime to prevent a drop-off in services. "This is hitting us in the wallet, but it's not costing the taxpayer," Owen said. The state has about 4,540 inmates housed in three private prisons in the state. In addition to the CCA facilities in Cushing and Holdenville, the third private prison that contracts with DOC is the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Lawton facility has had about $23,000 in fines since last December, including about $10,000 that is pending for November. The facility is owned by the GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. The performance audit, which was released Dec. 31, 2007, said the enforcement of liquidated damages provisions in the state's contract with private prisons was extremely rare and time-consuming. "DOC's process is somewhat cumbersome in that it requires multiple levels of consideration by executive staffs," the audit report said. It called DOC's failure to use liquidated damages effectively "a serious problem with DOC's management process" that has eroded the credibility of the contract monitoring system. In the past, DOC has used more informal sanctions in response to contract breaches, which sometimes resulted in adjustments in a facility's population level. "As system crowding worsens, however, the flexibility to reduce population in response to problems diminishes significantly," the audit reported.

January 4, 2008 Tulsa World
An outside audit of state prisons recommends adding more beds and personnel, among other things. The audit, with an initial price tag of $844,000, is expected to be released Friday at a state Capitol press conference. The audit, performed by MGT of America, recommends limiting the governor's role in the parole process, according to an advance copy obtained by the Tulsa World. It says projected prison growth is the result of longer sentences associated with requiring some offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. A very low parole rate contributes to the problem, the audit says. Either the Department of Corrections must expand its bed capacity or the state should implement programs to slow growth, the audit says. It notes a decline in the state's reliance on private prisons for a variety of reasons, adding that private prisons are slightly cheaper than public ones. The report also says there is little evidence that drug courts actually divert a significant number of people from prison. The state's parole rates have varied dramatically over the years and are significantly lower than other states', it says. It recommends that the governor be involved in the process only for select, heinous crimes. "Routine parole decisions should be the sole responsibility of the Pardon and Parole Board," the report says. It recommends abolishing the Board of Corrections, which governs the DOC, or limiting it to an advisory role, adding that the governor should appoint the DOC director. The audit says staffing levels at many DOC institutions are below advisable levels. It recommends adding 42 staff members at five institutions in particular to assure safe and effective operations. The report says several facilities have severe problems retaining personnel because of uncompetitive salaries and the demanding nature of the jobs, among other things. The report notes high turnover rates at private prisons, as well.

March 31, 2007 Tulsa World
Frustrated with a lack of funding and absence of lawmakers at a monthly meeting held Friday at the Capitol, the Board of Corrections decided to consider at the next meeting canceling its contracts for private bed space. The Board of Corrections, which oversees the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, learned last week that the DOC was due to receive only a quarter of the supplemental funding that officials say they need to cover expenses for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Although the board moved its monthly meeting to the Capitol and invited lawmakers to attend, none showed up. "Unless we get a supplemental appropriation that is going to be sufficient to cover our contract beds for the balance of this year, I would suggest we terminate all of those contracts," board member Ernest Godlove said. DOC relies on contracts with private prisons, halfway houses and some county jails to house about 6,700 of its 23,800 offenders. "I'm told by our finance director that we are now in deficit spending, and I don't want to be in a position where we are criticized for spending more money than we have," Godlove said. "And I think that's exactly where we are today."

March 20, 2007 News Channel 10
The director of the Department of Corrections told lawmakers today more state prisoners may be evicted from Oklahoma's private prisons unless prison operators are paid more to house, feed and care for them. D-O-C Director Justin Jones told members of the House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee he cannot sign contracts to house state prisoners in private prisons at ever-increasing market rates unless the Legislature authorizes it. Jones said the state pays about 46 dollars a day to house prisoners at the state's five private prisons. But he said other states that also house prisoners at Oklahoma private prisons pay as much as 54 dollars a day.

March 20, 2007 Oklahoman
The Great Plains Correctional Facility will close indefinitely "the first week of April,” leaving some 190 employees at the private prison without work, a company spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. "The decision to close came down to contract negotiations with DOC (state Department of Corrections),” said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc. Only 290 state inmates remain at the private prison from a population that was once 800 as recent as October. State corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said the remaining inmates are scheduled to be moved no later than April 6. State guards began relocating inmates after prison officials announced they would not renew their state contract in October. Parker said the decision came after months of negotiations. The bulk of Hinton's inmates were sent to the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison that recently underwent a $23 million, 600-bed expansion. "Basically, they (prison official) were telling us they were losing money,” Massie said. "We were paying other private prisons in the state anywhere from $40 to $45 a day per bed. They were getting around $47 a day per bed. "So they were getting more than anyone else.” In January, the private prison came under scrutiny when a convicted murderer and another fugitive escaped and kidnapped two elderly women. Authorities arrested both fugitives in Tulsa County, but only after a 36-hour manhunt that stretched 150 miles. Both women lived to tell their frightful story. At the time, a contract extension with the state was being discussed. Massie later said the extension wasn't necessary. "The closure has nothing to do with the escapes,” Parker said. "We had already decided not to renew our contract with DOC by then.”

October 24, 2006 Enid News
The old saying, “crime doesn’t pay,” might apply to criminals, but not to operators of private prisons. Officials at Hinton’s Great Plains Correctional Facility recently announced they would evict 800 state inmates housed there under contract with Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections. Cornell Cos. Inc., the Houston company that has owned the medium-security prison since 1998, is evicting the DOC prisoners, according to a spokeswoman, to consider “other business opportunities.” In other words, there are entities that will pay Cornell Cos. Inc. more per head for housing prisoners than the Oklahoma DOC can presently afford. State Corrections Director Justin Jones said the Hinton prison had been negotiating a better deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who are offering a better rate. California, which has declared an emergency due to prison overcrowding, reportedly is prepared to pay between $71 and $80 per day per prisoner to house the Golden State’s bad guys in private prisons. The state of Oklahoma, which will pay just more than $45 per day per inmate, can’t compete. You can’t blame Cornell Cos. Inc. They are a private business and, as such, are entitled to charge whatever they chooses for their services. The problem is, the state doesn’t have much room to house the 800 inmates Cornell is booting from its cells. The state has just 180 days to find someplace to put the evicted prisoners, but the state’s prisons are 98 percent full, meaning there’s little or no room for inmates at the inn. Even many county jails, which currently house more than 1,350 DOC prisoners, are at or near capacity. Such is the case with Garfield County Detention Center. So what is Oklahoma to do? Spend more money. The state either needs more prison beds, or must boost its per-diem rate for housing prisoners, or both. The DOC already has asked for a $193 million bond issue to help pay for a new 1,400-bed medium-security prison, 750 maximum security beds and other renovations. Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, thinks the state should pay for new prison space with money from the state “rainy day” fund, which he said currently contains nearly $500 million. Whether from a bond issue or from rainy day funds, the state must spend money to tackle this problem. Our police and courts are doing a good job of catching and convicting criminals, our prison system must make provisions to house them. This incident clearly illustrates the point DOC can’t count on private prisons to help solve the prison overcrowding problem.

October 6, 2006 The Oklahoman
The state Corrections Department might lose its contract with a private prison that houses 800 inmates, the agency's director said. Federal immigration officials have been negotiating a contract with the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton that would offer more favorable terms than those offered by the state, which pays $44 per day for each inmate housed there, state Corrections Director Justin Jones said. Officials for Cornell Corrections, the company that runs the prison, did not respond to inquiries Thursday from The Oklahoman. Carl Rusnok, regional spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said only that "we contract with a number of facilities around the country." U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, who has called for an increased presence by the federal agency in Oklahoma, said the agency is looking to better serve Oklahoma's immigration enforcement needs. "Any increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence in Oklahoma is a positive step for our state," Sullivan said in a statement. Jones said his agency already has executed its option to renew the contract. Leasing that space to anyone else should not be allowed under the contract, he said. Jones said corrections officials will challenge any contract with the prison that undercuts the department's holdings there.

September 29, 2006 Tulsa World
All of the jail and prison space in the state will be taken in the coming months, the Board of Corrections was told Thursday. Although statistics show the state system is at 97.96 percent of capacity, it is technically full because some beds have to be reserved for inmates who can't have a cellmate, for administrative segregation and for offenders in transit, said Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones. "Anytime we get over 97 percent, we are full," Jones said. Another 1,193 state inmates are backed up in county jails awaiting transfer into the state system. But Oklahoma is not alone in facing a space crunch. California needs 25,000 beds right away, Jones said. "They called us as courtesy to say they would be shopping in our state," he said. The Board of Corrections is seeking a supplemental appropriation of slightly more than $47 million to get through the current fiscal year, said Jim Harris, DOC chief financial officer. The bulk of the funds, nearly $34 million, would be to cover contract beds, Harris said. Another $5.8 million would add 600 contract beds at the Lawton Correctional Facility, a private prison operated by the GEO Corp.

August 29, 2004
Low pay, remote locations and high turnover rates are listed as reasons. Rising staff vacancy rates at state prisons are troubling for corrections officials.  Oklahoma prisons have 70 correctional officers and 253 other employees fewer than in 2001.  Low pay, remote locations and high turnover are part of the problem, which results in existing staff working overtime and double shifts to compensate.  Department of Corrections Director Ron Ward is well aware of the problem.  For years the agency has used surplus payroll money -- which would have gone to employees had they been hired -- to pay for private prison beds and other needs.  "We have had hiring freezes and delayed some hiring to help offset the overall agency budget," Ward said. "If we don't get the money to pay for the number of contract beds, we have to figure out as an agency how we are going to pay that. Sometimes, that comes out of payroll."  (Tulsa World)

January 14, 2004
State Corrections Department workers would get a salary boost under a bill filed Tuesday by Rep. Wayne Pettigrew, R-Edmond.  The bill calls for all full- and part-time officers and employees employed on the last working day of June 2004 to get the raise.  The law also calls for a 5 percent increase in the daily rate paid to private prisons. No increases in the daily rate have been approved since 1995, Pettigrew said.  (The Oklahoman)

July 24, 2003
The Office of State Finance disbursed $51 million in previously unallocated revenue Tuesday, with the lion’s share of the carry-over money going to public schools.  The $51 million became available at the end of fiscal year 2003 when it was determined final revenue collections exceeded the monthly allocations that had been made to state programs. Although the latest funds are an unexpected windfall for state agencies, the total represents only a fraction of the overall cuts departments were forced to make when revenue collections failed to meet estimates last fiscal year.  The Department of Corrections and the Office of Juvenile Affairs received $4.5 million and $1.2 million respectively.  “The additional funds will help the state corrections system during a difficult time. Those resources should help make things a little safer, both for the correctional officers inside the prison walls and the general public outside,” said Henry.  In spite of a $373 million budget, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is expected to run out of cash before the end of the upcoming fiscal year, according to agency officials.  K.C. Moon, director of the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center, recently told members of the Oklahoma Sentencing Commission that the state corrections budget can pay to incarcerate about 21,000 inmates in the next year, but the current inmate count is 23,085 and is expected to rise to 24,084 in the next year.  The shortfall in the budget appears to be in the line-item for private prison beds. The department’s fiscal year 2004 budget includes $81 million for private prison beds, which is $29.4 million or 27 percent less than the department expects to spend on contracted beds in the current fiscal year (which ends June 30).  (the Journal Record)

June 6, 2003
Four weeks before the next fiscal year begins, state prison officials said their budget already is $22 million short.  Lawmakers appropriated $373 million for fiscal year 2004, which begins July 1. The prison system needs $395 million to operate at current levels, Corrections Department Deputy Director Ed Evans said.  To make the budget work, the Corrections Department will need to remove 1,600 state inmates from private prison beds, Evans told the state Board of Corrections at a meeting at the John Lilley Correctional Center.  The prison system has renegotiated private prison contracts to reduce costs.  (Tulsa World)

February 25, 2003
State government could save up to $150 million by changing policies that send too many of its citizens to prison for too long, a report said Monday.  The report, written by university researchers, comes as state leaders look
for ways to reduce a record state budget deficit that is threatening funding for public education and state agencies.  Since the early 1990s, Oklahoma has sent an increasing number of nonviolent offenders to prison, where they serve longer sentences than they do in other states, the report said.  Barry Kinsey, professor of sociology at the University of Tulsa, pointed to statistics showing a significant increase in the number of drug and alcohol offenders sent to prison in Oklahoma over the last decade.  Oklahoma sends more females to prison than any other state, with an incarceration rate three times the national average, the report said.  That's mainly because so many women are imprisoned for drug, alcohol and nonviolent offenses, the report said.  The study was organized by the Oklahoma Alliance for Public Research Inc., a consortium led by former Gov. Henry Bellmon. Work on the project was done by researchers from four universities.  Other recommendations included:   - Restructuring private prison contracts to put emphasis on performance.  (AP)

February 9, 2003
The state Corrections Department expects to save about $1.4 million a year with the state's first purchase of a private prison. The department has won approval for the sale of bonds to buy the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility near McLoud, which has housed women inmates since it opened in 1998. Oklahoma , for the first time, will contract out to house inmates from other states. Wyoming and Hawaii have 110 women in the prison. The department expects to continue that arrangement and is counting on the $1.4 million a year in contract payments that have been going to the prison's owner, Edmond-based Dominion Correctional Services. The bond sales were approved by the state Council on Bond Oversight, the agency created when the Supreme Court ruled the Legislative Oversight Committee unconstitutional because legislators were approving bonds and appropriating money to pay them. The council voted 3-1. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Robert Holland Jr., senior vice- president for commercial lending at Quail Creek Bank. "I have some serious questions about the entire issue," Holland said. Still, Holland is wary. He's done his own investigation and questions the purchase price, especially from the owners of a prison where they're "pouring money down a hole," he said. "It's sitting out there not making money. "All those things bring up questions I don't understand. In a year and a half of being on this board, I've pretty well understood everything. I've learned, I've worked hard, but this one smelled of a rat. I want to do right thing for the state of Oklahoma , the people and me, because it's coming out of my pocket, too." (The Oklahoman)

February 2, 2003
The state Corrections Department's budget situation is still grim, but help from the Legislature and a drop in inmates in private prisons has slashed the department's projected deficit in half.  The overall prison population has dropped, particularly in private prisons, department spokesman Jerry Massie said. The department pays its private prison contractors based on how many state inmates are housed.  In August, the department housed 5,933 medium-security inmates in private prisons. That number has dropped by nearly 500 since then, down to 5,453 as of Jan. 27, department records show.  Overall, the prison population has dropped from more than 23,000 in November to 22,449 as of Monday. Many older inmates, who tend to cause fewer problems than younger ones, have been reclassified and sent to lower-security prisons, so fewer medium-security beds in private prisons are needed, said Patty Davis, administrator of classification and programs.  (The Oklahoman)

January 30, 2003
The issue of furloughing Department of Corrections employees is set to remain dormant until April, but what happens after that is going to depend on several factors.  They include the level of funding from the state, the amount of new inmates put into the system and how "lean" the DOC can operate without putting the public and staff at risk, according to DOC Director Ron Ward.  Ward said the DOC has been facing a budget deficit of $15 to $16 million. Part of that has been offset by not filling staff vacancies and reducing the number of inmates held in private prisons.  Still, Ward expects the DOC to have a deficit of $14 to $15 million for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30.  Ward said the DOC currently has around 450 vacancies in private prison beds.  "We're running about 1,100 vacancies in our staffing," Ward said. "That's allowed us to make some savings.  (News Capital)

January 16, 2003
Changes are needed to reduce the number of inmates and the budget for the state Corrections Department, Gov. Brad Henry and top lawmakers said Wednesday.  Henry said private prison contracts and the department's budget need to be scrutinized.  "I think we need to do some restructuring in our corrections system," Henry said. "We need to restructure the budget -- be smarter and more efficient. We've gone out in the past and made some contracts with private prisons that might not be the best solution."  Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, D- Lexington, said his office is working on statutory changes that would reduce the number of inmates in Oklahoma prisons.  Hobson criticized Keating for implementing changes that led to Oklahoma's high incarceration rate and contracting with private prisons.  Ward said he understands the need to discuss cutting the use of private prisons.  "It's something that should be reviewed," he said. "We do put a lot of money into that contract -- a substantial amount of our budget. But most of the inmates housed in private prisons are high-security threats.  Being able to empty some low-security beds and then move some inmates from private prisons would be a significant savings."  (The Oklahoman)

April 27, 2002
Board of Corrections members extended private prison contracts for about three weeks at a regular meeting Friday in Tulsa, but they are worried about being broke come May 18 if more funding is not appropriated.  Contracts with six private prisons were extended through May 17 -- the date of the board's next regular meeting.  Officials said implementing staff furloughs and transferring inmates from private prisons to state-operated facilities are among the options.  About 5,600 inmates are held in private prisons, and state facilities are running at 99 percent capacity.  Staffing is between 82 percent and 85 percent of its optimum level.  A recent report by the Institute on Money in State Politics shows that 54 Oklahoma lawmakers received a total of $52,125 in campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists during the 2000 elections.  The report notes that nearly 83 percent of that money was given to winning candidates.  An additional $2,050 was given to the political parties.  The report stated that nine of the top 10 recipients of private prison contributions supported the bill.  The other top recipient was excused from voting on the legislation.  (Tulsa World)

April 16, 2002
The Board of Corrections on Monday extended contracts for its six private prisons until April 26, when officials say the money will run out.  As of March 19, the board was seeking a $34 million supplement, of which $21.9 million was to go for contract beds, including private prisons.  At its special meeting, the Board of Corrections discussed the possibility of having to return the 5,000 to 6,000 inmates who are in private prisons across the state to public ones.  As of Monday, private prisons held 5,633 DOC inmates.  (Tulsa World)

April 15, 2002
Legislative leaders forged an agreement Monday to spend $9.8 million to help the financially embattled Corrections Department operate through most of next month.  Much of the appropriated money will pay for private prison beds during this next month, legislators said.  Although HB 2567 passed 44-2, it sparked critical comments about the Corrections Department and past decisions, especially the use of private prisons.  "This is an endless hole.  We've allowed this to happen," said Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta.  Among the things that caused problems for prisons were changes in inmate classifications and the elimination of the prison cap, which allowed some inmates to be released early when the prison population reached a certain level, Shurden said.  He also criticized the state's decision to use private prisons.  "The prisons are full.  They're doing well.  Private prisons are doing well.  It's a racket," Shurden said.  Sen. Herb Rozell, D-Tahlequah, said the state should consider a lease-purchase agreement on private prisons.  The state is making monthly payments to use the private prisons, he said.  "We just keep making that monthly payment, and it will last an eternity," Rozell said.  (NewsOK.com)

April 11, 2002
Oklahoma's deepening financial crisis has left state officials scrambling to find a way to cut more money from their budgets. "What we'll have to do is see what we have in terms of any flexibility, and our flexibility is virtually none," state Corrections Director Ron Ward said. Ward said the Corrections Department is seeking an extra $30 million from the Legislature for the remainder of the fiscal year. The bulk of it -- nearly $23 million -- is for private prisons with the remainder for medical services, he said. If the agency can't absorb the latest cuts, it will ask for more supplemental funding, he said. (The Oklahoman)

April 4, 2002
Oklahoma's emergency reserve fund may have to be tapped to fund a $34 million supplemental funding request that the Department of Corrections says it needs to pay its bills, House Speaker Larry Adair said Thursday. The agency's supplemental request includes $30.1 million in critical needs, including $21.9 million to pay contracts for cells in six private prisons as well as various county jails and halfway houses. (AP)

March 14, 2002
The Department of Corrections needs an additional $39.7 million to pay its bills for the rest of the fiscal year and will run short of money next month without a supplemental appropriation, corrections officials said today. The funding request includes $22.6 million to pay for state prisoners housed in private prisons and other
contract facilities.  The state has doubled the amount it spends on public and private prisons during the past decade.  (NewsOK.com)

February 21, 2002
Oklahoma House members unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would give authority to the state Corrections Department to investigate crimes involving Oklahoma inmates inside private prisons. Rep. Lloyd Fields, D-McAlester, wrote the bill at the request of corrections officials, he said. Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said the law, if approved, would clear up any potential jurisdictional conflicts that could be caused by such investigations. (NewsOK.com)

February 4, 2002
Former Oklahoma Department of Corrections employees are finding employment with private prison vendors doing business with the state. James Saffle, 49, officially retired on May 31 as DOC director. In June, he wound up on the payroll of Avalon Correctional Services Inc. as its president. Mary L. Livers, another former associate director under Saffle, serves as Avalon's chief operating officer. Another former DOC director, Larry Fields, is president of Edmond-based Dominion Correctional Services. He left the DOC in 1996, then worked for several different companies until being named president of Dominion in March 2000. Steve Kaiser, the department's former chief of operations, was the first of DOC's upper management to leave for a job in private corrections. He went to work for Corrections Corporation of America as warden of the Davis Correctional Center in Holdenville, although he no longer works at that position. The state paid CCA nearly $44.5 million in fiscal year 2001 for contract beds. A former DOC warden and deputy warden have also left state employment to work for private prisons. Vickie Shoecraft left as warden at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft. She is now warden of Dominion's Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility. In addition, Charles Ray resigned as deputy warden at Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft. He is now warden at CCA's Davis Correctional Facility. (Tulsa World) 

Oklahoma Legislature
Jan 11, 2014 ringoffireradio.com

Private prison corporations have been long-time bedfellows with state politicians across the country. The companies’ grip appears especially tight on Oklahoma politicians as they have shelled out over $400,000 on political contributions over the last decade. Now, the Oklahoma governor’s staff is slowing the law’s implementation. Oklahoma currently holds some of the highest per capita incarceration rates in the country, having the country’s highest female incarceration rate and the fourth highest male incarceration rate. From 2000 to 2010, Oklahoma’s prison population growth outpaced the state’s population growth. And Oklahoma is running short on money and resources to properly house inmates and run its prisons. Last year, the Oklahoma state legislature passed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) in an effort to reduce the state’s ever-increasing incarceration rates. The reform would avoid jail time for non-violent offenders and, instead, utilize “proven treatment and intervention strategies.”  Private prison corporations wanted to cut themselves in on the law and increase their profits by having use of their halfway houses written into the law’s provisions. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and other state officials initially supported the law, but perceived support has tapered since the governor’s office actively undermined the JRI’s implementation committee’s efforts. The governor’s office also rejected federal funds intended to get the JRI off of the ground. Recently surfaced emails from within Fallin’s staff illustrate a collective concern over the JRI as they believed it made the administration appear “soft on crime.” The state of Oklahoma has a reputation for being the exact opposite. “In order to get elected in Oklahoma, you have to be quote-on-quote ‘tough on crime,’” said reform advocate and former Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele. Whenever the law passed with Fallin’s support, other conservatives met her with opposition. Her biggest fear for this year is inter-party opposition, and that fear may be coming to pass. Randy Brogdon, an Oklahoma tea partier, announced that he would run for governor against Fallin in the GOP primary this year as Fallin up for re-election. With a GOP primary on Fallin’s heels and the JRI appearing as a blemish on her administration, the prison reform’s implementation has been tentative at best. Steele believes that because the JRI is a potential threat to Fallin’s political position, her administration lightened up its support. Reform supporters also believe that Steele was politically maneuvered out of a leadership role with an implementation oversight group. Oklahoma’s prison reform is at odds with contractual agreements between the private prison’s and the state. Provisions of the contract illustrate that the state must maintain an agreed upon “bed rate” in the private prisons or else the state must pay a monetary penalty. This penalty is naturally paid for out of the state budget which burdens its taxpayers. Oklahoma’s prison occupancy quota is among the highest in the nation. The state has three contracts with private prisons that must maintain a 98 percent occupancy at all times. This agreement is a huge profit center for the prison corporations, and they contribute money to candidates who will bolster “tough on crime” laws to ensure maximum occupancy. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), The Geo Group, Inc., and Avalon Correctional Services Inc. are the main prison contributors to Oklahoma politicians. Contributions have already surpassed $50,000 for 2014 re-election campaigns and have funded many things from political initiatives to other campaigns and the Oklahoma Speaker’s Ball. Fallin is the top active recipient of contributions, receiving $38,950 from private prisons.  


May 19, 2013 www.tulsaworld.com

OKLAHOMA CITY - Private prison interests have given nearly $200,000 in campaign dollars and gifts to 79 of the 149 members of the state Legislature since 2004, a Tulsa World analysis shows. From a meal valued at $3.87 for one lawmaker to $22,500 toward T.W. Shannon's Speaker's Ball, private prison and halfway house influence has become well entrenched at the state Capitol. As the state's prison population has climbed, so has spending on private prisons, which was nearly $73 million last fiscal year, up from slightly more than $57 million in fiscal year 2004. Halfway-house expenditures were nearly $14 million in fiscal year 2012, up slightly from more than $12 million in fiscal year 2004. Since 2004, lobbyists, private prison and halfway house employees have given $375,425 to 165 elected officials and candidates for office. The contributions and gifts come from lobbyists and others affiliated with Avalon Correctional Services, The GEO Group Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America. All three have operations in the state. The lobbyists' representation is not limited to one private prison or halfway house company. They have contracts to represent dozens of far-ranging interests. House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is the top recipient of private prison-linked dollars. Shannon has received $34,950. The sum includes $22,500 donated by three private prison companies to fund the 2013 Speaker's Ball. People make donations to the speaker's campaign because of his ideals, not to buy a spot for theirs, said Joe Griffin, a Shannon spokesman. "This office makes decisions based on what is best for Oklahoma," Griffin said. Gov. Mary Fallin ranks No. 2 in private prison dollars. Private prison interests, which include employees, political action committees and lobbyists employed by the companies, have donated $33,608 to her campaigns. "Campaign donations do not affect the way Gov. Fallin makes policy decisions, period," said Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman. Because she ran a large statewide campaign, it is not surprising that she has large amounts of contributions from any particular group of donors, he said. Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, is the top recipient of private prison and halfway house dollars in the Senate and No. 3 recipient among elected officials overall. Jolley has reported receipts totaling $30,450 toward his campaigns. Jolley said employees of Avalon live in his district, which could account for his ranking. Jolley said people are going to believe what they want about politicians and donations. "But my vote is not for sale," Jolley said. "It never has been. It never will be." State Treasurer Ken Miller received the bulk of his contributions in his current position but collected $2,250 as a member of the Oklahoma House. Political action committees representing CCA and The GEO Group also have donated nearly $100,000 since 2004 to candidates. In 2012, private prison interests donated nearly $50,000 to campaigns. Private prison interests donated $72,900 to 2010 campaigns, records show. In 2008 and 2006, private prison interests donated a respective $72,900 and $71,395 to political campaigns. Republicans, who control houses of the Legislature and all elected state offices, have received about 83 percent of the contributions from private prisons since 2004. Since 2010, The GEO Group and Avalon Correctional Services both reported gifts to various lawmakers and legislative staff. Most of the gifts were given while the Legislature was in session. Cooper "Brett" Robinson, a lobbyist on behalf of Geo Group, paid for $865.71 in meals and a "movie night" for lawmakers and their spouses during 2010 and 2011. His clients range from Bank of Oklahoma to the City of Oklahoma City, according to a filing with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Tammie Kilpatrick, a lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America who has also worked for Avalon, reported paying for meals valued at $235 for legislative staff and one lawmaker over 2010 and 2011. She works for one of the larger if not the largest lobbying firms in the state, with dozens of clients. Private prison lobbyists reported no gifts to lawmakers in 2012. Reports for the first half of 2013 won't be due until later. Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said lobbyists who work for the company do not make donations on the company's behalf. The company has four private prisons in the state, two of which are under contract with Oklahoma. Another one houses California inmates. The fourth is not operational. "Lobbyists represent dozens of clients," Owen said. "To attribute whatever contributions lobbyists make to a specific client, I don't know. Unless there is some evidence and information that support that the two are connected, I don't know how anyone can make that claim." Corrections Corporation of America supports candidates who are generally supportive of public-private partnerships, Owen said. "A big part of what we are doing is educating elected officials and policymakers on the merits of public-private partnerships," Owen said. Brian Costello, Avalon president and chief operating officer, said his company ended its lobbying contract because it could no longer afford it. The company, which has halfway houses, has a lot of empty beds not being used by the Department of Corrections, he said, adding that reimbursement rates have been frozen. "I guess my point would be that it is clear we are not buying any influence but support candidates that provide good government to the state," Costello said. The GEO Group declined a request for a phone interview but issued a statement saying it provided significant savings to the state and quality services. "Our company participates in the political process, as do other organizations including private corporations and organized labor organizations, through lobbyist representation and political contributions," part of the statement said. Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Forest Park, has been a longtime, largely unsuccessful advocate for sentencing reform and opponent of longer sentences and additional penalties. "I am shocked but not surprised," Johnson said of the donations. "My take is that what I have noticed about how the policies are flowing, pro-private prisons, pro-enhanced felonies, the thing I stand up and argue about all the time. Follow the money. This whole notion of special interests having undue influence on the legislative process, this is proof."

 

Top recipients of private prison donations, 2004 to present

Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) $34,950*

Gov. Mary Fallin (R) $33,608

Sen. Clark Jolley (R) $30,450

Treasurer Ken Miller (R)  $15,000

Insurance Comm. John Doak (R)  $12,639

Sen. Rob Johnson (R)  $10,200

Sen. Don Barrington (R)  $9,650

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb (R)  $8,750

Rep. Todd Thomsen (R)  $8,200

Sen. Dan Newberry (R)  $7,750

*Includes $22,500 for Speaker's Ball

July 15, 2012 Tulsa World
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is struggling to come up with a $2 million legislatively mandated increase in payments to private prisons and halfway houses. Senate Bill 1988 by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, was passed in the waning days of the legislative session. "For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, the Department of Corrections shall spend an amount equal to what it spent on private prisons and halfway houses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, plus an additional $2 million," the measure says. Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones said his agency was not appropriated additional dollars for the increase in payments for private bed space, which were given effective July 1. Jolley, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, disagrees. "We gave him what we spent last year plus $2 million more to make those things happen," he said. Sears, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said Jones and Jolley are correct. He said the DOC wasn't appropriated the extra $2 million but that lawmakers let the agency tap the Oklahoma Correctional Industries Revolving Fund to come up with the money for contract increases.

February 25, 2011 Oklahoman
A state agency's board today will consider reviewing a contract dogged by accusations of bid rigging and linked to a state senator and lobbyist's extramarital affair. Board members for the Office of Juvenile Affairs meet this morning. On their agenda are three items pointing to a potential review of a controversial state contract to build a 144-bed juvenile detention center. The center would replace the aging, maximum-security L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs. The contract for a new detention center was awarded in November to an Ada group, but its signing has been delayed twice. The contract came under scrutiny after it was revealed that Sen. Harry Coates, 60, was having a romantic affair with lobbyist Haley Atwood, 30, whose clients would have benefited from the Ada Youth Academy Authority securing the $10 million-a-year contract. Atwood represented a Norman architectural firm that would design the center, and Rite of Passage, a Colorado-based company that would operate it. Coates, R-Seminole, was among several lawmakers involved in legislation last year asking the agency to build a new juvenile detention center.

January 12, 2011 Oklahoman
The multimillion-dollar deal for a new state juvenile detention center linked to a senator and lobbyist's romantic affair has been delayed again. A planned signing this past Friday of a $10 million-a-year state contract for the juvenile center was called off at the last minute amid concerns from House Speaker Kris Steele. Steele, R-Shawnee, said Tuesday he asked Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian to delay the signing because he is concerned the contract may not fulfill what the Legislature wanted when it asked the agency to build a new juvenile center. “I'm not accusing anybody of anything, but I do think it's important that I meet with Director Christian and the other interested parties to ensure the contract has been handled appropriately,” Steele said. Steele said he plans to meet with Christian this week. The contract has been dogged by criticism since it was revealed that Sen. Harry Coates, 60, and lobbyist Haley Atwood, 29, were having an extramarital affair while working to help clients of Atwood win the contract. Christian last year announced plans to award the contract to an Ada group working with a private juvenile academy operator and an architecture firm that were clients of Atwood and favored by Coates, R-Seminole. When Coates and Atwood's affair became public, failed bidders alleged Coates, Atwood and Christian had rigged the bidding to favor the Ada group. An attorney general's review of the bidding for the contract released this month found the affair couldn't have influenced bidding.

December 7, 2010 Oklahoman
The state attorney general's office agreed Monday to review how a multimillion-dollar state contract was awarded to a group working with a lobbyist romantically linked to a state senator. The $10 million-a-year contract for new state juvenile centers was to be signed Monday, but the signing was delayed last week after revelations by The Oklahoman that state Sen. Harry Coates and lobbyist Haley Atwood helped steer the contract to Atwood's client. Coates, 60, and Atwood, 29, were having an extramarital affair while working on the juvenile center project. The attorney general's review will focus on the process used to award the contract, a spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmondson said. The attorney general's office last week made a phone call inquiring about the process and decided no investigation was warranted. However, agency officials decided to start a more in-depth review Monday after an afternoon meeting between Senate Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman and First Assistant Attorney General Tom Gruber. “They presented us with some paperwork that we had not previously seen,” said Charlie Price, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

December 4, 2010 Oklahoman
A multimillion state contract signing was halted Friday amid allegations that the bidding process was rigged to favor a client of a lobbyist having an extramarital affair with a state senator. Senate leaders on Thursday asked Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian to delay Monday’s signing of a $10 million-a-year contract for new juvenile centers. Christian agreed to delay the signing one month so the Senate can investigate the bidding process. The contract was to go to an Ada group working with Rite of Passage, a private juvenile academy operator that hired lobbyist Haley Atwood. The Oklahoman revealed this week that Atwood, 29, and Sen. Harry Coates, 60, were having an extramarital affair at a time they were helping Rite of Passage win the contract. Failed bidders welcomed the contract signing delay. “Any truly independent investigation is going to determine that this whole … bidding process needs to be thrown out and we need to start over again,” said Brian Costello, president of Avalon Correctional Services, a rejected bidder. Greg Pierce, chairman of the Ada Youth Academy Authority, said his group is disappointed about the delay, but they’re going to continue to compete for the project. “We’ve worked hard on this, and have done nothing wrong,” Pierce said. Investigation continues Coates, who is a proponent of Rite of Passage’s juvenile academy model, was not in Thursday’s meeting between Senate leaders and Office of Juvenile Affairs officials. Coates said he spoke late Friday to Senate Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman, who is leading a Senate investigation into how the contract was awarded. Coates said Bingman told him he will ask the attorney general’s office to review the allegations surrounding the process used to award the contract. “I said I’m good with that, and I’ll provide any information,” Coates said. On Thursday, an assistant attorney general told a state employee group upset with the bidding process that he had made a phone call to the agency overseeing the contract award and found no reason to investigate further. Through his spokesman, Bingman declined to answer questions about the Senate investigation.

December 1, 2010 Oklahoman
A state senator and lobbyist who are having a romantic affair worked together to steer a lucrative state contract toward a private company that had hired the lobbyist, an investigation by The Oklahoman has revealed. The wife of Sen. Harry Coates said Monday her husband has told her he is having an affair with lobbyist Haley Atwood. Atwood, 29, who didn't deny the affair with Coates, 60, also is married. State officials last week announced plans to award a $10 million-a-year state contract for a new juvenile center to the Ada Youth Academy Authority, which has selected a private operator, Rite of Passage, to run the new center. Rite of Passage earlier this year hired Atwood for consulting work. Coates, R-Seminole, and Atwood have since been actively involved in helping Rite of Passage and the Ada group secure the juvenile center contract, records and interviews show. Coates, who also didn't deny the affair with Atwood, said his relationship with the lobbyist didn't influence his decision to get involved in the juvenile center project. “That's a private issue and has nothing to do with the project,” Coates said. “They are totally separate matters.”

September 16, 2010 Think Progress
In December 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful front group that helps corporate representatives craft template legislation for state lawmakers, funded partially by the private prison industry — hosted Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R) and began debate on legislation that would provide broad powers to local police to arrest anyone who might look like an immigrant. ALEC then distributed the template legislation to its members. The January/February 2010 edition of ALEC’s magazine highlights the draft version of SB1070 — the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” — as model legislation. In April of this year, Pearce then introduced ALEC’s template as the infamous SB1070 law. Notably, the ALEC task force which helped Pearce devise his racial profiling law included Laurie Shanblum, a lobbyist from the mega-private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which previously played a role in privatizing many of Texas’ prisons. An investigation from Arizona’s KPHO-TV found more ties between SB1070 and the private prison industry: Paul Senseman, Gov. Janet Brewer’s (R-AZ) deputy chief of staff was a former lobbyist for CCA (his wife is still a lobbyist for CCA) and Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman, runs the lobbying firm in Arizona that represents CCA. In These Times reporter Beau Hodai, who also reported much of SB1070’s connections to the private prison industry, has a chart to explain the relationship. CCA is set to receive well over $74 million in tax dollars in FY2010 for running immigration detention centers. In a presentation given earlier this year, Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund with a large financial stake in CCA, suggested that CCA’s profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison. Many of the legislators helping to earn CCA more profits with radical anti-immigrant bills mirroring SB1070 have been recipients of private prison industry cash or have worked closely with the CCA-funded ALEC organization: – TENNESSEE: Earlier this year, legislators in Tennessee passed an immigration bill with provisions “similar to, but less harsh than, those of SB 1070, including requiring city and county jails in the state to report any person who may be in violation of immigration laws to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” But that wasn’t enough: right-wing local lawmakers also passed a resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, and a delegation of state lawmakers promised to introduce an anti-immigrant bill even “broader” than SB1070 in 2011. Many of the leading local lawmakers who voted for the anti-immigrant bill and resolution received thousands of dollars from CCA’s political action committee in the past two years, including State Reps. Gerald McCormick ($250), Barrett Rich ($500), Eric Watson ($250) and State Sens. Bill Ketron ($1,000), Jim Tracy ($500), Dolores Gresham ($1,000), Bo Watson ($500), and Jack Johnson ($500). Tracy, who sponsored the resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, also received $2,000 directly from CCA founder Tom Beasley, reports the Nashville City Paper. CCA retains five lobbyists in the state and spent at least $50,000 this year to lobby on immigration and other issues. – OKLAHOMA: Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK), who won her party’s nomination to run for governor this year, received the maximum donation permitted by law from CCA. State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-OK), who announced that he was planning an “Arizona-Plus” immigration bill that would be harsher than SB1070, is a proud member of the CCA-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. – COLORADO: A group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado, after a research trip to Arizona this summer, have stated that they plan on passing a SB1070 law in Colorado next year. CCA’s lobbyists in Colorado have raised funds for many of the lawmakers in the group. CCA lobbyist Margy Christiansen raised $400 State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, one of the leaders of Colorado’s Arizona expedition, and CCA lobbyist Jason Dunn raised $150 for State Sen. Mike Kopp, the Republican minority leader who is promising to promote an SB1070 bill next session. – FLORIDA: During the gubernatorial primary campaign between disgraced businessman Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum (R-FL), the prospect of importing Arizona’s SB1070 became a prominent issue in the race, with both candidates promising to bring a version of the law to the state. While many Florida Republicans recoiled at the idea, which stands to alienate many Hispanic voters, a cadre of state lawmakers and candidates for the state legislature, most funded by the prison industry, announced their support for an SB1070-type law. State Rep. Bill Snyder, who has received $500 from CCA, pledged to introduce a bill more draconian than SB1070. State House candidate Ben Albritton, another outspoken supporter of SB1070, took $500 from CCA, and State Rep. Joe Negron, who has been working with Snyder to sponsor the bill, received $1,000 from the Geo Group, another major private prison contractor which operates immigrant detention centers. Overall, the Republican Party of Florida has been the biggest recipient of prison industry cash in the past two years: $37,000 from CCA and $145,000 from the Geo Group. – PENNSYLVANIA: In the Key State, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA) introduced the ALEC-drafted “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” one month before State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ) introduced his version of the bill in Arizona. Metcalfe is a highly active member of ALEC. He was paid $1,500 by ALEC just to attend its meetings with CCA lobbyists on how to draft the law. In Tennessee, the average daily number of immigration detainees sank to 40 in FY2009, down from 95 in FY2008. This may change with CCA’s aggressive lobbying for more laws encouraging aggressive arrests of immigrants or people who look like immigrants. Charles Maldonado, who has reported on CCA’s corrupting influence at the Nashville City Paper, notes that CCA may see new business at its West Tennessee Detention Facility with the passage of more SB1070-related laws. ALEC, with funds from several private prison companies, helped sponsor “truth-in-sentencing” and “three-strikes-you’re-out” laws all over the country for the past two decades. These laws have greatly increased incarceration rates, and have contributed to America’s distinction of having the largest prison population in the world.

April 30, 2010 Tulsa World
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin closed the money gap on Democratic front-runner Drew Edmondson during the first three months of 2010, preliminary figures reported by the campaigns Friday show. Fallin, Oklahoma’s Fifth District congresswoman, raised $512,559 during the first quarter, compared with Edmondson’s $395,892. Edmondson still leads in total funds raised at just less than $2.1 million, with $1.1 million in cash on hand. Edmondson, the state’s attorney general, spent $148,632 for the quarter. Fallin spent $250,559, and has $747,144 on hand. Fallin’s campaign, which has spent about $27,000 more than Edmondson, has paid Sagac Public Affairs, an Oklahoma City consulting firm, nearly $240,000. It has paid $105,000 to Hockaday and Associates of Virginia for web development and $55,000 to another Washington, D.C.-area consultant, Ed Goeas. Edmondson’s campaign spending includes $86,340 to Fundraising Management Group of Bethesda, Md. Records indicate that Edmondson had 10 people on his campaign payroll during the last reporting period, compared with five for Fallin. During the first quarter, Fallin received $35,000 from political action committees, including the maximum $5,000 each from Associated Anesthesiologists of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists, Marathon Oil, Corrections Corporation of America and Seaboard Farms, which operates a large hog-raising and processing plant near Guymon.

July 29, 2009 Tulsa World
Private prisons in Oklahoma soon could be housing maximum-security inmates from other states under a new law approved in the waning days of the 2009 legislative session. The language inserted into an omnibus corrections bill changes state policy that previously allowed only minimum- and medium-security inmates from other states to be housed in private prisons. House author Randy Terrill, R-Moore, defended the new law, saying this week that several safeguards were put in place, including a policy that allows the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to review and approve inmates and to ensure the facilities where they will be housed were designed to hold such offenders. But Judith Greene, director of the New York-based criminal justice research institute Justice Strategies, said similar policy changes in other states have had disastrous results. "I think it's a recipe for disaster," said Greene, who has analyzed criminal justice practices and private prisons for years. She said similar efforts by private prisons operating in Ohio and New Mexico in the 1990s resulted in excessive violence against guards and other inmates. "Mostly knifings and a couple of deaths," she said. "There very well should be some concerns (in Oklahoma)." But Terrill said the bill specifically prohibits maximum-security inmates with a history of escape, a felony conviction for rioting, sex offenders or those who have been sentenced to death. Texas, which has four private prisons housing out-of-state inmates, is one of the few states that allows maximum-security inmates. But inmates are screened to weed out anyone with a history of violence or other behavioral problems behind bars before they can be housed there, said Adan Munoz, director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. "We've got enough troublemakers in Texas," he said. Terrill inserted the language late in the session into a bill that authorized the Corrections Department to transfer illegal-immigrant inmates to federal authorities before they finished their sentences in Oklahoma. Terrill said the language surfaced late in the session because it involved intense negotiations among the governor's office, state House and Senate, Corrections Department, the private prison industry and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.

May 23, 2009 Oklahoman
Private prisons in Oklahoma would be prohibited from accepting any detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay if a measure passed Friday by the state House of Representatives becomes law. House Bill 2245 would make it illegal for private prison contractors in the state to "provide for the housing, care and control of detainees designated as enemy combatants by the federal government.” "There is no doubt that the terrorists at Gitmo are some of the most dangerous criminals held by our nation, and placing them in Oklahoma prisons will put our citizens at risk,” said state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, House author of the bill. "This exclusion applies to the private prison contractors.” Without the legislation, it’s possible for the federal government to contract with the private prison companies to handle the detainees, he said. "This would prevent that,” Terrill said. Terrill said he didn’t know whether the exclusion would apply to the prison at Fort Sill. "That’s under federal jurisdiction,” he said. House Bill 2245 unanimously passed the House. The Senate is expected to take it up next week. The legislation also would let the state Corrections Department send inmates who are illegal immigrants to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for deportation. Terrill said that would save the state about $4 million a year. The deportation provisions would apply only to illegal immigrant criminals who are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes and who have served at least one-third of their sentence in state prison. About 230 offenders in state prisons would be immediately eligible for transfer to federal facilities, he said. The measure also calls for private prisons to agree to lower rates it charges the state to house inmates because of the economic downturn, Terrill said. Savings could be about $6 million for the 2010 fiscal year, he said.

April 15, 2009 Tulsa World
Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee says a recent trip that his top aide took with a private prison lobbyist was not improper. Fred Morgan, Coffee's senior policy adviser and a former Republican House member, traveled to Mexico in December with Brett Robinson, a lobbyist for GEO, a private prison company that has a facility in Lawton. Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said that there is no validity to suggestions of wrongdoing surrounding the trip, adding that Morgan paid his own way. "They had a prior relationship before they were a lobbyist and a government official," Coffee said in an interview with the Tulsa World last week. "I think people have personal relationships and they have lives outside of the Capitol building." Robinson said the trip to Punta Mita, Mexico, involved Morgan and his wife, Page; Robinson and his wife, Karma, and another lobbyist and her husband. Karma Robinson has raised money for Coffee and some Senate political action committees, Coffee said. "They are good friends of ours," Brett Robinson said of the Morgans. "I have known Fred since before I became a lobbyist." Robinson said there was nothing illegal or unethical about the trip, which he described as "a trip among friends." Morgan, who also serves as legal counsel to the Senate Republicans, said he paid his own way on the trip involving "personal friends." Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, said perceptions about the trip are "probably bad. You just don't know what they did — all that stuff. That is what makes it hard, a deal like this." "If it is as explained, then there is nothing improper," said Senate Minority Leader Charlie Laster, D-Shawnee. "Does it look bad? With this private prison stuff going on, I guess people will just have to judge for themselves whether it looks bad." Coffee was the center of controversy last week after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections released an analysis of what it would cost to close three state prisons. The agency said the analysis was done at Coffee's request. Coffee said there are no plans to close state prisons and that the agency misconstrued his request. Coffee then amended a bill to abolish the Board of Corrections, which hires the Department of Corrections director. It would allow the governor to appoint the director with the consent of the Senate. Some have questioned the timing of the amendment, but Coffee has said the idea has been discussed for some time. In fiscal year 2008, the state spent slightly more than $78 million to house inmates in private prisons. Of that amount, slightly more than $41 million was spent with GEO, according to information provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

April 11, 2009 Tulsa World
Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee's cup runneth over with changes. Let's start with gubernatorial appointments. Coffee says the executive branch should be strengthened. He supports giving a governor stronger powers to make his own appointments and set his own agenda. We'd like to believe the first Republican Senate pro tem in state history is that concerned about good government. But we suspect Coffee's actions are more about giving the Senate stronger powers to set its own agenda than helping out the governor. Case in point: Coffee will amend a bill to abolish the Oklahoma Board of Corrections, which hires the Department of Corrections director. The amendment requires the governor to appoint the director, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. That means if the Republican-controlled Senate doesn't like Democrat Gov. Brad Henry's choice, senators can turn down the nominee. DOC Director Justin Jones, an informed and able administrator, should be watching his back. Coffee proposed the organizational DOC shake-up after receiving a memo from Jones on the cost — $23 million — of closing three public prisons. Coffee didn't like Jones' information, saying he wanted something else. It's no secret that Coffee is a strong backer of private prisons. It also appears that since some other states pulled out their inmates, the private prisons need inmates. In fact, in March, Oklahoma's six private prisons had 2,510 empty beds. That's not good for the bottom line. There's a troubling pattern to Coffee's actions, says Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, the Senate Democratic Caucus chairman. "Basically if you don't agree with Coffee on policy initiatives, he is going to take some sort of revenge." Coffee has punished Democratic senators with whom he's butted heads. Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, and Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, both lost committee posts. The move did not serve Oklahomans well since both men were experts in their field. When the Oklahoma Bar Association disagreed with Coffee "he filed a bill to hamper or destroy their association," claims Corn, referring to a Coffee bill that would make OBA dues voluntary. Under Coffee's DOC amendment — the latest in a series of power grabs — DOC would be run "by politics and fear," Corn said, "rather than by a professional." We've been there and done that. The Legislature (formerly controlled by the Democrats) managed to run off several good directors in the past. The last thing DOC needs in these difficult economic times is to lose Jones. All these tactics leave us to wonder who's next on Coffee's payback list.

April 11, 2009 Tulsa World
Questions are being raised about the timing of a measure that would impact who runs the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, gave notice earlier this week that he intended to amend House Bill 1965 to abolish the Oklahoma Board of Corrections, which hires the Department of Corrections director. The amendment would require the governor to appoint the DOC director, with the consent of the Republican-controlled Senate. Coffee said he was acting at the request of the House. House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said the change was one of the recommendations in a DOC audit done by MGT of America. The audit, which cost $844,000 and was done at the request of lawmakers, was released in late December 2007. "The MGT audit was filed about two years ago," Board of Corrections Chairman Earnest Ware said in a statement. "The timeliness of Sen. Coffee's floor amendment certainly indicates a continual pattern of vindictiveness."

October 26, 2006 Tulsa World
Oklahoma corporations and individuals have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to out-of-state political organizations that are now spending money in the state. Two Washington, D.C.-based groups -- the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican State Leadership Committee -- have begun targeting key state Senate races. Both have ties to their respective national parties and the goal of influencing local legislative races. Among those giving to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee were Tulsa oilman George W. Krumme, who gave $58,000 in 2004-06; Ada-based Chickasaw Nation, which gave $25,000 on July 31, 2005; and the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in Oklahoma, gave $12,500 on Jan. 20.

October 24, 2006 Enid News
The old saying, “crime doesn’t pay,” might apply to criminals, but not to operators of private prisons. Officials at Hinton’s Great Plains Correctional Facility recently announced they would evict 800 state inmates housed there under contract with Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections. Cornell Cos. Inc., the Houston company that has owned the medium-security prison since 1998, is evicting the DOC prisoners, according to a spokeswoman, to consider “other business opportunities.” In other words, there are entities that will pay Cornell Cos. Inc. more per head for housing prisoners than the Oklahoma DOC can presently afford. State Corrections Director Justin Jones said the Hinton prison had been negotiating a better deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who are offering a better rate. California, which has declared an emergency due to prison overcrowding, reportedly is prepared to pay between $71 and $80 per day per prisoner to house the Golden State’s bad guys in private prisons. The state of Oklahoma, which will pay just more than $45 per day per inmate, can’t compete. You can’t blame Cornell Cos. Inc. They are a private business and, as such, are entitled to charge whatever they chooses for their services. The problem is, the state doesn’t have much room to house the 800 inmates Cornell is booting from its cells. The state has just 180 days to find someplace to put the evicted prisoners, but the state’s prisons are 98 percent full, meaning there’s little or no room for inmates at the inn. Even many county jails, which currently house more than 1,350 DOC prisoners, are at or near capacity. Such is the case with Garfield County Detention Center. So what is Oklahoma to do? Spend more money. The state either needs more prison beds, or must boost its per-diem rate for housing prisoners, or both. The DOC already has asked for a $193 million bond issue to help pay for a new 1,400-bed medium-security prison, 750 maximum security beds and other renovations. Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, thinks the state should pay for new prison space with money from the state “rainy day” fund, which he said currently contains nearly $500 million. Whether from a bond issue or from rainy day funds, the state must spend money to tackle this problem. Our police and courts are doing a good job of catching and convicting criminals, our prison system must make provisions to house them. This incident clearly illustrates the point DOC can’t count on private prisons to help solve the prison overcrowding problem.

April 11, 2006 The Norman Transcript
During his two terms in office, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating pushed hard to farm out prisoners to private corrections companies that saw the state as fertile ground for their businesses. Mr. Keating saw the contractors as filling a need without growing government. Communities saw the prisons as economic development, bringing jobs to often depressed areas that had trouble recruiting industry. When legislators raised the spectre of public safety at the private prisons, officials agreed that the inmates would only be those classified as medium security so as not to jeopardize the communities where the private prisons located. Now, lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow maximum security inmates from Oklahoma prisons to be transferred into the private prisons. Associated Press Capitol reporter Ron Jenkins said in a Sunday legislative focus story that it would be the first time maximum security inmates would be farmed out. Veteran State Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, told the AP the problem is Oklahoma has become dependent on private contractors for medium security space. It puts the Department of Corrections in a weak negotiating position when it comes time to place prisoners. Department of Corrections officials want to build an additional 700 maximum security beds at the Oklahoma State Reformatory in McAlester but have not been cleared to do so by the Legislature. Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, is the author of the bill to allow maximum security inmates to be placed in private control. "It would only be in-state inmates," Corn told the AP. "We are not going to allow other states to bring their maximum security inmates into Oklahoma." Lawmakers may sign off on the inmate change but we think it best to ask those communities that have private prisons of the anticipated impact on their cities and towns. Some will welcome the additional payroll but there will be some that believe the potential for trouble outweighs any increased economic impact and say send them somewhere else.

April 8, 2006 KOTV
A bill quietly moving through the Oklahoma Legislature would allow maximum security inmates to be placed in private prisons for the first time. A system of private prisons sprung up during the administration of former Gov. Frank Keating, but they were mostly designed to house medium security inmates. The move to private prisons was seen as an economic development issue, bringing jobs to depressed areas of Oklahoma, including some areas that had previously balked at having prisons in their communities. At the time, some lawmakers raised public safety concerns about bringing maximum security inmates, including murderers, rapists and armed robbers, into Oklahoma from other states. A bill that has passed the Senate and is pending on the House calendar would allow private prisons to contract with the state for maximum security inmates, but they would have to be transferred from Oklahoma prisons. Veteran Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, said private medium security prisons were ``built like crazy'' under Keating in the 1990s and that has led to problems in managing the state's prison population.

July 23, 2005 Tulsa World
Oklahoma lobbyists spent thousands on state officials in the first six months of 2005 for expensive meals, flowers, tickets and pens costing more than $100.   One lobbyist even paid for a trip to a spa.   Wednesday was the deadline for lobbyists to file six-month reports with the state Ethics Commission.  Corrections Corporation of America, one of a handful of private prison contractors for which lawmakers approved a raise, spent $600 buying legislators tickets to the speaker's ball.  CCA lobbyist Scott Adkins, a former legislator, said he was one of several people that House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, asked to sponsor the ball.

May 7, 2003
Gov. Brad Henry's inaugural committee raised more than $863,700 and spent more than $756,8000 for the inaugural celebration, according to reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.  That's a record for inaugural celebrations for Oklahoma governors.  Henry's committee raised more than $863,7000 and includes several $10,000 contributions, according to the reports.  CCA, Avalon Correctional Contractors, each donated $10,000 or more, according to the reports.  (The Oklahoman)

February 12, 2003
Oklahoma government spending for professional services, ranging from legal and medical services to prison operations, has increased 68 percent since 1999.  Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, said he would like to see every chairman of an appropriations subcommittee examine professional services contracts of agencies under their review and make the agencies justify them.  Some professional services contracts are exempt from competitive bidding, while others aren't, said Tom Jaworsky, state purchasing director.  Jaworsky, the state's purchasing director, said total professional services contracts in a year probably have gone down in number but increased in dollar amounts, particularly since the state awards contracts for private prison beds.  The state Corrections Department also had a jump in professional services contracts related to its operation of prisons and programs for prisoners.  Corrections Department professional services contracts totaled 94 million in 1999. Those contracts increased to 108.2 million in 2002.  Jerry Massie, spokesman for the Corrections Department, said the contracts include ones for 6,000 private prison beds, halfway houses and prisoner treatment programs.  (The Sunday Oklahoman)

January 30, 2003
A prison expert told legislators Wednesday that Oklahoma's dependence on private prisons leaves the state "vulnerable" and that lawmakers should look at ways other than privatization to save money.  James Austin, director of George Washington University's Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections, said Oklahoma could have problems if private prison companies decided to end their contracts with the state or faced financial difficulties and had to close.  Such a situation would leave the state with thousands of inmates needing cells.  As of Jan. 27, Oklahoma's public prisons are almost 98 percent full, state Corrections Department statistics show.  Austin was the main speaker at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Accountability in Government.  Most of the state's private prisons are owned by the companies that operate them, so the state can't control what those companies do with the prisons, Austin said.  The state's high dependence on private prisons -- almost 24 percent of Oklahoma's inmates are housed in private prisons -- could hurt the state if a company folds or ends its contract with the state, Austin said.  Austin said private prisons can build new prisons cheaper and faster than can state governments, and can generally operate them as well or better. But he also noted that private prisons, which usually are newer and have less-experienced staffs, are more prone to misconduct, violence and drug use among inmates.  (Thee Oklahoman)

January 18, 2003
With Oklahoma facing a massive budget crunch, a McAlester legislator says it's time to ask voters decide whether they want to pay additional taxes to provide more state revenue. State Sen. Gene Stipe (D-McAlester) says he's ready to serve as the principal Senate author on a resolution to take a proposed tax increase to a vote of the people. The senator said Oklahoma also ought to reduce the number of inmates in prison and return inmates in private prisons to state custody. "We're incarcerating too many people and we're keeping them too long," Stipe said. "Our crime rate is way up there, so it's not doing them any good." He said former Gov. Frank Keating had a study conducted that said "Lock 'em up, so we did. Then private prisons proliferated," Stipe said. He said he will see that the Department of Corrections is funded. "I have the responsibility for funding corrections," Stipe said. "There are more corrections employees in my district than in any other. We will continue funding corrections, but we don't need all these private prisons." (News-Capital)

November 20, 2002
Oklahoma legislators easily passed a $9.8 million emergency funding bill Monday to prevent employee furloughs in the state Corrections Department next month. Meeting in special session, the House voted 95-0 for House Bill 1007X. The Senate voted 40-1 for it, with only Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, opposing the legislation. A few questions were raised in the Senate and House before the bill was considered. Shurden asked whether the Corrections Department's problem was a result of the Keating administration's efforts to build private prisons. Rep. Danny Hilliard, D- Sulphur, who Monday served a final time as House majority floor leader, said corrections costs have more than doubled since 1994. Hilliard said he was certain the department's administrators were looking for other ways to trim costs, such as possible sentence commutations, reviving community sentencing programs and possibly moving inmates from private prisons to cheaper county jails. (The Oklahoman)

November 19, 2002
The Legislature pumped another $9.8 million into Oklahoma's prison system Monday, but lawmakers grumbled about the high cost of corrections and vowed to cut it.  The spending measure was approved 40-1 in the Senaae and 95-0 in the House.  But the measure raised many questions during lawmakers' one-hour special session.  Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, cast the only no vote.  He questioned whether Keating's efforts to funnel state inmates into private prisons instead of less expensive state prisons had inflated the agency's budget.  "We're just putting more money down a rat hole," Shurden said later.  The Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which requested the emergency spending bill, has proposed a series of cost-cutting steps including the release of 3,600 nonviolent offenders and returning 1,150 prisoners from private to state-operated prisons.    (AP)

January 27, 2002
The new head of the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association says the state's sheriffs want to house more state prisoners. Osage County Sheriff Russell Cottle, who took over as president of the group on Jan. 1, said the association wants the Legislature to require the Department of Corrections to contract with sheriffs to keep state prisoners when they have the space. Several sheriffs have enough space to house state prisoners but are not being allowed to, Cottle said. Instead, the department is spending between $31 and $48 a day per prisoner to house prisoners in private prisons when there is no room in state facilities. "We can do it cheaper and keep the money in the state," Cottle said. "I could do it for $24 a day." Under the sheriff's plan, DOC would give first priority to existing private prison contracts for housing state prisoners and second priority to county sheriffs, Cottle said. "Enough is enough," he said. "Don't bring in more private prisons. Go to counties with space and not out-of-state entities." (AP)

November 9, 2001
Private prison costs and inmate medical care factor into a $56 million budget shortfall that may loom over the state Department of Corrections by the end of the fiscal year.  Private prison companies will need the extra money to offset employee cost of living raises.  Massie also added that those companies probably will give their employees raises in response to salary increases given to state prison workers in the last legislative session.  Officials estimated the Corrections Department needs $20 million to $30 million more for anticipated increases in private prison costs.  (AP)

September 6, 2001
A special committee will be appointed to investigate state hiring practices, including expansion of the use of private industry to provide government services, House Speaker Larry Adair said Thursday.  "We're spending a lot of money," Adair said, citing the expansion of the use of private prisons and so-called "privatization" of other government functions.  He said he is not sure how good a job the sector was doing, based on citizens' comments.  (AP) 

August 6, 2001
Corrections officials are pleading with the governor and legislative leaders to give them $ 62 million more during the special session in September.  Corrections official David Miller said half the money - $ 31 million - is needed to pay the contracts already made with private prisons, a cost that lawmakers failed to fund last session.  Corrections also wants nearly $ 8 million to give private prisons, a 7 percent increase for each inmate . Another $ 4.8 million in the request would be used to hire more prison guards.  Governor Keating surprised lawmakers last fall when he told the Corrections Department to scour its rolls for first-time offenders locked up for nonviolent crimes. He said they should be placed in community treatment center programs.  (The Daily Oklahoman)

Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs
December 7, 2010 Oklahoman
The state attorney general's office agreed Monday to review how a multimillion-dollar state contract was awarded to a group working with a lobbyist romantically linked to a state senator. The $10 million-a-year contract for new state juvenile centers was to be signed Monday, but the signing was delayed last week after revelations by The Oklahoman that state Sen. Harry Coates and lobbyist Haley Atwood helped steer the contract to Atwood's client. Coates, 60, and Atwood, 29, were having an extramarital affair while working on the juvenile center project. The attorney general's review will focus on the process used to award the contract, a spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmondson said. The attorney general's office last week made a phone call inquiring about the process and decided no investigation was warranted. However, agency officials decided to start a more in-depth review Monday after an afternoon meeting between Senate Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman and First Assistant Attorney General Tom Gruber. “They presented us with some paperwork that we had not previously seen,” said Charlie Price, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

December 4, 2010 Oklahoman
A multimillion state contract signing was halted Friday amid allegations that the bidding process was rigged to favor a client of a lobbyist having an extramarital affair with a state senator. Senate leaders on Thursday asked Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian to delay Monday’s signing of a $10 million-a-year contract for new juvenile centers. Christian agreed to delay the signing one month so the Senate can investigate the bidding process. The contract was to go to an Ada group working with Rite of Passage, a private juvenile academy operator that hired lobbyist Haley Atwood. The Oklahoman revealed this week that Atwood, 29, and Sen. Harry Coates, 60, were having an extramarital affair at a time they were helping Rite of Passage win the contract. Failed bidders welcomed the contract signing delay. “Any truly independent investigation is going to determine that this whole … bidding process needs to be thrown out and we need to start over again,” said Brian Costello, president of Avalon Correctional Services, a rejected bidder. Greg Pierce, chairman of the Ada Youth Academy Authority, said his group is disappointed about the delay, but they’re going to continue to compete for the project. “We’ve worked hard on this, and have done nothing wrong,” Pierce said. Investigation continues Coates, who is a proponent of Rite of Passage’s juvenile academy model, was not in Thursday’s meeting between Senate leaders and Office of Juvenile Affairs officials. Coates said he spoke late Friday to Senate Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman, who is leading a Senate investigation into how the contract was awarded. Coates said Bingman told him he will ask the attorney general’s office to review the allegations surrounding the process used to award the contract. “I said I’m good with that, and I’ll provide any information,” Coates said. On Thursday, an assistant attorney general told a state employee group upset with the bidding process that he had made a phone call to the agency overseeing the contract award and found no reason to investigate further. Through his spokesman, Bingman declined to answer questions about the Senate investigation.

December 1, 2010 Oklahoman
A state senator and lobbyist who are having a romantic affair worked together to steer a lucrative state contract toward a private company that had hired the lobbyist, an investigation by The Oklahoman has revealed. The wife of Sen. Harry Coates said Monday her husband has told her he is having an affair with lobbyist Haley Atwood. Atwood, 29, who didn't deny the affair with Coates, 60, also is married. State officials last week announced plans to award a $10 million-a-year state contract for a new juvenile center to the Ada Youth Academy Authority, which has selected a private operator, Rite of Passage, to run the new center. Rite of Passage earlier this year hired Atwood for consulting work. Coates, R-Seminole, and Atwood have since been actively involved in helping Rite of Passage and the Ada group secure the juvenile center contract, records and interviews show. Coates, who also didn't deny the affair with Atwood, said his relationship with the lobbyist didn't influence his decision to get involved in the juvenile center project. “That's a private issue and has nothing to do with the project,” Coates said. “They are totally separate matters.”

April 26, 2005 Tulsa World
Seven Oklahoma lawmakers intervened in the Office of Juvenile Affairs' efforts to terminate a financially troubled Lawton facility's status as a youth service agency. State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan earlier this month questioned $1.1 million in OJA contracts to youth service agencies, saying contract monitoring wasn't done. As a result, he questioned the entire $20 million given to youth service agencies. But when OJA tried to terminate a contract with the financially troubled Marie Detty Youth and Family Service Center in Lawton, lawmakers intervened to try to stop the action.
In February, Joy Snell, Marie Detty Youth and Family Services Center, Inc., board president indicated to OJA Executive Director Richard DeLaughter that the group was "in a time of crisis," but committed to operating its youth services programs. On March 14, the OJA told Marie Detty Youth and Family Services that based on its financial condition, its certification as a youth service agency would be terminated May 1. The termination would result in the entity not being eligible for OJA contracts as a youth service agency. Three days later, Shawn Black, Oklahoma Association of Youth Services executive director and former Oklahoma House fiscal analyst, told OJA they had made an uninformed, hasty decision and asked that the letter of termination be rescinded. On March 23, seven lawmakers signed a strongly worded letter to DeLaughter urging him to rescind the termination letter. The letter was signed by Sens. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, and Don Barrington, R-Lawton; and Reps. Ann Coody, R-Lawton; Jari Askins, D-Duncan; Don Armes, R-Faxon; Abe Deutschendorf, D-Lawton, and Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. "We would like to know how OJA intends to use its resources to assist the center," the letter says. McMahan's audit also indicated that OJA staff felt that the Oklahoma Association of Youth Services was "a political power not to be toyed with." McMahan's audit brought to light bonuses given to youth services personnel and then turned into political donations. "The perception by OJA staff that the Oklahoma Association of Youth Services may have a close relationship with legislators may have created a situation in which OJA staff is apprehensive in questioning activities of the OAYS and its member youth service agencies," McMahan's audit said. "From interviews and conversations with OJA staff, it appears that the attitude towards the Oklahoma Association of Youth Services is one of mistrust, fear and resentment."

April 25, 2005 Oklahoman
A letter signed by seven state lawmakers appears to validate complaints that behind-the-scenes pressure by legislators discouraged state employees from diligently enforcing wayward contracts with nonprofit youth services agencies. The letter, authored by state Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, urges Office of Juvenile Affairs Executive Director Richard DeLaughter to back off a decision to terminate state contracts with Lawton's Marie Detty Youth and Family Services Center. The decision to decertify the Lawton agency was based on questionable program claims and expenditures and concerns about financial viability, records show. Dr. Joy Snell, president of Marie Detty's board of directors, acknowledged the agency had management problems in the past, but said outside help has been brought in and the agency is working through its problems. She has urged the Office of Public Affairs to give her agency more time. Legislators joined her requests for leniency. "We urge you to rescind the termination until a more informed decision could be made regarding the center's financial viability," legislators said in the letter. "Although the center can appeal your agency's decision, it is unfortunate they will be required to expand (sic) valuable resources defending their financial viability.... We would like to know how OJA intends to use its resources to assist the center." Also signing the letter were state Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton; Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton; Rep. Jari Askins, D-Duncan; Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon; Rep. Abe Deutschendorf, D-Lawton; and Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. Letters from state legislators carry special weight with state agencies because lawmakers have the ability to reward or punish agencies through appropriations. DeLaughter declined comment. "I don't think it was heavy-handed," Dorman said of the letter. "It certainly wasn't intended to be heavy-handed. We were just trying to take care of services for the people back home." After the Office of Juvenile Affairs received an appeal from the Lawton agency, the effective date of the agency's decertification was extended to June 1. State Auditor Jeff McMahan released a report April 12 that criticized the Office of Juvenile Affairs for failure to properly monitor contracts with 41 nonprofit youth services agencies that are paid to serve troubled youth. Auditors said when they looked into the contracts, they found the Office of Juvenile Affairs was reimbursing the youth services agencies without any documentary proof the services had been provided or were effective. An Oklahoma County youth services executive director was paid $10,000 in bonuses from state funds "for the purpose of making political contributions to state legislators," auditors found. They also found that an Osage County youth services agency was paid for a first- time offender program that apparently did not exist, a Tulsa group was paid $20,400 in federal money under what appeared to be false pretenses, and several youth services agencies overbilled the state for counseling and rehabilitative services. Auditors said when they questioned Office of Juvenile Affairs employees about their lack of oversight, they were told there was a perception that the Oklahoma Association of Youth Services was a "political power not to be toyed with." Campaign finance records examined by The Oklahoman show executive directors of youth services agencies have made more than $25,000 in direct political contributions and indirect donations through a political action committee in recent years. Auditors noted that the nonprofit agencies had enough political power to get special legislation passed exempting them from budget cuts when the state experienced a huge revenue shortfall. The letter uncovered by The Oklahoman shows that the Lawton youth services agency also had enough political clout to get seven lawmakers to write a letter in the agency's defense when it was faced with a loss of state funds because of a failure to meet contract obligations.

April 15, 2005 Tulsa World
Problems uncovered by a recent critical audit of the Office of Juvenile Affairs were pointed out years before and went largely uncorrected, documents show. An audit covering fiscal year 2000 states that the agency apparently "does not currently have a formal policy regarding supervisory review of contracts concerning vendors with the OJA based on the agency's needs." Yet another audit released last year revealed similar problems with a contract between the Office of Juvenile Affairs and Oklahoma Sheriff's Association. An audit released this week found the OJA did little if any monitoring of contracts with nonprofit agencies that provide services to troubled youth. State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan specifically questioned $1.1 million in spending and $20 million overall. James Walker, executive director of Youth Services of Tulsa since 2001, said the audit turned up no "unexplainable costs or charges" involving Tulsa's agency. The audit questioned OJA's payment of benefits and payroll taxes for employees at all youth services agencies, including Tulsa's. The audit states that OJA employees appear to fear the political clout of the Oklahoma Association of Youth Services. The association acts as an umbrella group for the state's 41 youth services agencies. Walker is chairman of the association's political action committee, which has given about $13,000 to lawmakers since 2000, records show. Lobbyists and top employees of youth services agencies also contributed to lawmakers, bringing the total contributions to lawmakers to about $34,000 in the past four years. "We are encouraged to contribute to the PAC. We are a group of youth advocates. It's important for us to be able to support our advocacy efforts," he said. OJA officials have had to end a contract with a private facility to house juveniles and struggled to make improvements at the L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs. A legislative panel will discuss the audit next week. Budgeting practices could also be discussed. "If there is anything we have done to have a train wreck, we've done it," said Rep. Lucky Lamons, D-Tulsa, whose district includes Rader.

April 14, 2005 Oklahoman
Legislators will begin investigating the Office of Juvenile Affairs' contracting procedures next week in the wake of an audit uncovering evidence of fraud, lawmakers said. The House and Senate budget panels overseeing the Office of Juvenile Affairs will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday with state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan and his staff to review the state audit. State auditors said Tuesday they found widespread evidence of fraud and misspending involving youth services agency contracts administered by the Office of Juvenile Affairs to serve troubled youth. The Oklahoma Association of Youth Services issued a response Wednesday, disputing some of the audit findings and criticizing auditors for using "inflammatory language." Auditors reported finding documents revealing that $10,000 in state funds for troubled youth were paid in bonuses to the executive director of a nonprofit youth services agency for the purpose of making political contributions to legislators. The audit reported numerous instances of apparent overbilling and said one youth services agency in Osage County was reimbursed for about two years for a first-time offender program that apparently didn't exist.

April 13, 2005 Oklahoman
State auditors announced Tuesday they have uncovered widespread evidence of fraud and misspending involving contracts administered by the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs to serve troubled youth. E-mails and other documents reveal that $10,000 in state funds for troubled youth were paid in bonuses to the executive director of a local nonprofit youth services agency "for the purpose of making political contributions to state Legislators," auditors said. Auditors also found state payments for a nonexistent program and gross overbillings that were paid, State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan said. "It's appalling," McMahan said. "Something needs to be done -- yesterday! "The state is pumping a lot of money into these programs, and I'm not sure if it is ever trickling down to youth. I would have to say it looks criminal." McMahan said the Office of Juvenile Affairs is supposed to oversee about $20 million a year in state contracts with 41 nonprofit youth services agencies paid to provide counseling, mentoring and other services to at-risk youth. Among the 90-page audit's most significant findings: The state Office of Juvenile Affairs paid Ken Young, Oklahoma County Youth Services executive director, $10,000 from August 2001 through December 2003 as reimbursement for bonuses he received in order to make political campaign contributions. In essence, that means taxpayer money designated for treatment of troubled youth was routed through a nonprofit agency and used to make campaign contributions. Young did not return a telephone call late Tuesday afternoon seeking comment. An Osage County youth services agency was reimbursed for about two years for a first time offender program that apparently did not exist. American Indian Resources of Tulsa was paid $20,400 in federal money under what appeared to be false pretenses. The Office of Juvenile Affairs Office of Public Integrity investigated the contractor and found what appeared to be false claims, forged documents and a lack of records to document the performance of the organization, which appeared to operate out of a private residence. The Oklahoma County Youth Services Agency repeatedly overbilled the state for group counseling. If there were 20 youth in a one-hour group counseling session, the agency would bill the state for 20 hours of paraprofessional services, even though there was "no contract provision for this method of billing," auditors said. Youth services agencies in Tulsa, Lawton, Muskogee, Payne, Sequoyah and Oklahoma counties billed the state for more hours of counseling or rehabilitative services than could be verified. McMahan said taxpayers "should be angry" that they are paying millions of dollars for services for troubled youth that youngsters are not receiving. He pledged to make it a personal priority to clean up the program and said he anticipates the governor will do the same.

April 12, 2005 AP
Audit cites lack of accountability. The expenditure of millions of taxpayer dollars for services to troubled teenagers was questioned Tuesday in a state audit of Office of Juvenile Affairs contracts. The audit, conducted at the request of Attorney General Drew Edmondson, cited instances where private, nonprofit agencies contracting with OJA were duplicating services, overbilling for services or receiving questionable reimbursements. Jeff McMahan, state auditor and inspector, said auditors found an "inconceivable lack of monitoring" by the OJA of contracts to agencies of the private Oklahoma Association of Youth Services. Specific irregularities involving $1.1 million were cited in the audit and auditors questioned whether $20 million provided each year to OAYS agencies ever filtered down to services for troubled teens. Among the findings in a sampling of 100 of 600 contracts between the OJA and OAYS was that one private agency got payments for two years for a program that did not exist and one OAYS director was paid $10,000 in bonuses that went to a political contribution.

Riverside Intermediate Sanctions Facility
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Avalon

April 6, 2006 AP
A correction center employee has been accused of second-degree rape for allegedly having sex with a prisoner while he was on a work crew. The inmate told an investigator that he met Patricia Thomas, 31, at a motel while he was on an inmate work crew a year ago, said Tiffany Smith, vice president of communications for Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Facility in Tulsa. Thomas was a client monitor at the facility. The company fired Thomas after intercepting a letter she sent to the inmate. It is illegal in Oklahoma for any employee of a jail or prison to have sex with an inmate.

October 7, 2004 Tulsa World
A Tulsa escaped felon who gave police a fake name -- while driving with a newspaper article that featured his photo and correct name -- was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison.
Mark A. Burleson, 23, pleaded guilty to felony charges of escape and false impersonation. Burleson was allowed to work in a kitchen June 18 at Avalon Correctional Services' Riverside Intermediate Sanctions Facility at 1727 Charles Page Blvd. Officials did not notice that he was missing until the morning of June 19, according to reports.

July 30, 2004 Tulsa World
Police are searching for a 30-year-old man charged with escaping from the Tulsa Community Correctional Center.  Nia Malika Gaddis is described as black, 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Court records show he escaped from Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit in December. 

June 26, 2004 Tulsa World
But the escapee's fame goes a long way toward helping a traffic cop put him back behind bars. Police caught a correctional center escapee driving 15 mph faster than the speed limit on a city street Friday.  The car had an expired license tag, and a Tulsa World article about his escape -- complete with the man's picture -- was on the front seat beside him.  He had been housed at Avalon Correctional Services' Riverside Intermediate Sanctions Facility, 1727 Charles Page Blvd., since April 15, Avalon President James Saffle said.  When Burleson was allowed to work in the kitchen June 18, he managed to escape. His disappearance was not discovered until a day later.  

June 24, 2004 Tulsa World
Avalon Correctional Services officials are investigating how an inmate at the company's Tulsa facility escaped Friday but was not noticed missing until Saturday.  Avalon President James Saffle said Burleson, 22, had been at the facility since April 15. On May 5, he was moved to a higher security unit for inmates with disciplinary problems, Saffle said.  He said an employee allowed Burleson to work in the kitchen Friday and that Burleson escaped. Saffle said Burleson, who was not discovered missing until Saturday morning, should not have been working in the kitchen.  Avalon, which leases the Riverside facility from the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, has a contract with the DOC to hold community corrections inmates. The authority voted last year to discontinue a contract with Avalon to hold county in mates at Riverside.  A county inmate who escaped from the facility on Nov. 24, 2002, shot a convenience store clerk to death that Christmas Eve, a month after his escape. The inmate, Markis Daniels Rogers, was convicted last year of murder and robbery and sentenced to life in prison.  Rogers had escaped from the Riverside facility after Avalon employees allowed inmates into the exercise yard at night with no direct supervision. Another inmate escaped the following day, also from the exercise yard.  Following those two escapes, the company said it had stopped the practice of leaving inmates unsupervised in the yard.  However, in October 2003, two inmates escaped through a fence in an exercise yard when they were left unsupervised. 

October 24, 2003 Tulsa World
An Oklahoma Department of Corrections team is searching for two men who escaped from Tulsa's Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit. Billy Brockus, 33, and Terry Jones, 22, have been missing since late Tuesday.  James Saffle, president of Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the facility, said the men escaped through a fence in an exercise yard after pulling back the razor wire.  The men were being held under "community security," which is the lowest level at the facility, Saffle said. No guards were in the yard at the time of the escape.  Avalon authorities discovered the escapes during a midnight inmate count, Saffle said.

May 28, 2003
A Tulsa County inmate jumped a fence Tuesday afternoon and escaped from the former Adult Detention Center but was caught by police about an hour later.  Shane Allen Boggs, 32, escaped about 1:15 p.m. by bolting through a door used by work crews.  He gained access to the door after being sent to pick up his medication, according to James Saffle, president of Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit.  Boggs' escape is the third from the Riverside facility in six months.  Avalon holds between 80 and 100 county inmates at the Riverside facility at a lesser daily cost than the Tulsa Jail.  But the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority has opted not to renew Avalon's contract, which expires June 30.  (Tulsa World)

March 27, 2003
A woman sues two corrections companies and an escapee who is accused of killing her husband.  A wrongful death suit was filed this week in connection with the Christmas Eve shooting of a Tulsa man that allegedly was carried out by an escapee from the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit.  Virginia Qureshi filed the suit on behalf of her late husband, Zubair Qureshi, previously referred to as Mohammad "James" Qureshi, 53, who was working behind the counter of the 24-hour U-Stop, 2520 E. Mohawk Blvd., when he was killed.  Defendants in the suit are the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Tulsa Jail; Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the Riverside facility; and Markis Daniels Rogers, who escaped from the Riverside facility Nov. 24.  Martin and Associates is representing Qureshi.  The law firm alleges that CCA employees transferred Rogers to the low-security Riverside facility operated by Avalon but continued to charge the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority to house him.  It alleges that CCA paid a Avalon a lower rate to house Rogers and pocketed the difference.  Attorney C. Rabon Martin, said that whether CCA made a profit by sending Rogers to the Riverside facility is irrelevant.  "The meat and potatoes is that they took a very dangerous guy to Avalon in low-security," he said.  Rogers was sent to the Riverside facility by mistake.  (Tulsa World).

January 31, 2003
A homeless man who previously escaped from the Riverside Sanction Unit was back in custody this week at the Tulsa Jail after being picked up by police officers on burglary complaints.  Richard Lee Bates Jr. escaped from the Riverside facility in November by climbing over two chain-link fences from an unsupervised exercise yard at night.  (Tulsa World)

January 3, 2003
The three men face first-degree murder counts in the Christmas Eve killing of a convenience store owner.  Three men were charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the Christmas Eve slaying of a convenience store owner.  Markis Daniels Rogers, 20, Kelvin Lanard Ford, 20, and Alvin Deanglo Elliott, 19, were arrested within the past week in the shooting death of Mohammed "James" Qureshi, 53.  Police arrested Rogers in Spavinaw on Monday night. He had escaped in late November from a privately run Tulsa County corrections facility, where he originally was being held on two armed robbery charges.  Rogers had been sent mistakenly to the Riverside Immediate Sanction Unit, operated by Avalon Correctional Services, by county officials who thought all of the armed robbery charges against him had been dismissed.  The Riverside facility is supposed to be for nonviolent inmates who are serving time for municipal charges or for failing to pay court costs or fines.  Rogers escaped Nov. 24 after making his way over and under two 15- to 18-foot chain-link fences that were topped with barbed wire. A warrant had been issued for his arrest, but police could not say whether there had been a manhunt.  (Tulsa World)  

January 2, 2003
A Tulsa County inmate who escaped from the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit in late November has been arrested in connection with the Christmas Eve slaying of a convenience store owner.  Markis Daniels Rogers, 20, was taken into custody Monday night in Spavinaw of complaints of murder and armed robbery.  He had been at large for more than a month after escaping Nov. 24 from the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit. He was able to make his way under and over two 15- to 18-foot chain-link fences that were topped with barbed wire. At the time, Avalon Correctional Services, which operates the Riverside facility, allowed inmates into the exercise yard at night with no direct supervision.  Avalon stopped that practice after Richard Lee Bates, 25, escaped the day after Rogers had. Bates also got past the fences in the exercise yard. Records show that Bates, who was being held for failure to pay fines, is not back in custody.  (Tulsa World)

December 1, 2002
Police and a former guard had expressed concern about security at Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit before two inmates escaped this week. Donald Montgomery, an administrator for the center run by Avalon, said added security measures were imposed after the escapes. Montgomery dismissed accusations by Bryan Jones, former security supervisor for the center. Jones, a former Broken Arrow police officer, said he left his job with Avalon earlier this year because he was afraid he would be held responsible if an inmate or guard were injured. He said Avalon hires people who have no experience, then staffs the facility poorly. Jones also said a urine test was never pursued when he reported an employee who was obviously "high." "Things like that were swept under the rug," he said. "The big thing on their agenda was we were not a correctional facility. They didn't want to appear as a jail." (Oklahoman)

November 27, 2002
A second escape by a Tulsa County inmate in just two days has prompted officials from Avalon Correctional Services to beef up security at the former Adult Detention Center.   Richard Lee Bates, 25, escaped about 8 p.m. Monday from an exercise yard at the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit.   Bates, who is still at large, climbed over two barbed-wire fences.   Also at large is Markis Daniels Rogers, 19, who escaped Sunday night.   Avalon Administrator Donald Montgomery said Tulsa County inmates are now being held at a medium-security level.   Avalon will stop the practice of allowing inmates into the exercise yard without direct supervision. Inmates also will not be allowed outside the building after dark, he said.   Tulsa police have been critical of Avalon's staffing levels, and Bryan Jones, a former security supervisor for Avalon, said he believes that six employees is definitely inadequate. "I would want at least 15," he said. (Tulsa World)

November 26, 2002
A Tulsa County inmate who is facing robbery charges remained at large Monday after escaping Sunday night from the former Adult Detention Center.  Markis Daniels Rogers,19, escaped from the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit's exercise yard by getting past two fences.  Razor wire previously topped the fence surrounding all of the units, but Webber said it has been removed.  County officials are in the process of finding out what happened to it.  Webber said no guards were in the exercise yard when Rogers escaped but that guards rely on security cameras.  Rogers was among more than 100 inmates who have been diverted from the Tulsa jail, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, to the Riverside facility, operated by Avalon Correctional Services, to cut jail costs.  Avalon Administrator Donald Montgomery was unavailable for comment, and Avalon's chief operating officer could not be reached.  (Tulsa World)

November 16, 2002
A program to divert public drunks from the jail went down the hatch Friday.   Avalon Correctional Services was given a 12-month contract last year to operate a Public Inebriate Alternative program at the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit, the former Adult Detention Center. The company housed alcohol abusers at a cheaper rate -- $26.15 a day -- than the jail and referred them to 12&12 and other drug treatment programs.   The trouble was participation.   The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority pledged to pay Avalon for 40 beds a day, but the program had an average of only five participants a day.   The jail board took no action to renew its contract with Avalon, which expires Nov. 30.   Tulsa County Commissioner Bob Dick said the jail board lost about $280,000 on the program.   "People always say government ought to act like private business. Well, private business gets rid of losers."   Newly appointed Police Chief Dave Been told the Tulsa World last month that officers would make efforts to use the program more often.   Records show that Been advised supervisors to send a backup with officers going to the facility after concerns were raised that the environment there was not safe.   An officer told Been that Avalon was housing public drunks with prisoners from the state Department of Corrections, records show. Avalon was minimally staffed, with prisoners having "the run of the place," and officers were being verbally harassed by prisoners. (Tulsa World)

September 28, 2002
The Public Inebriate Alternative program, designed to cut jail costs and offer refusal services, continues to be severely underused, according to reports released during Friday's meeting of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority.  Avalon Correctional Services' contract to operate the PIA program is up for renewal in November, and the lack of participation casts doubt on whether the program can survive as designed.  Tulsa County commissioners deputy Paul Wilkenling, who is working on a jail population task force, reported Friday that 176 people were in jail for public drunk charges, while only six of 40 beds were being utilized in the PIA program.  The jail board is hoping to save $500,000 this year by paying Avalon $29.99 a day per inmate at the 100-bed Riverside facility.  Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Tulsa Jail, is paid $45.81 a day.  The jail population is down to about 1,250 but is still considered high.  (Tulsa World)

August 24, 2002
The Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority paid more last month to operate the jail than it earned from county sales taxes for the first time since the facility opened in 1999.  On Friday, the jail board approved the July payment of more than $2 million to Tulsa Jail operator Corrections Corporation of America, while only drawing $1.6 million from the county sales tax that funds operations.  But efforts are being made to avoid tapping reserves.  The transfer of about 100 inmates to a public drunk facility will begin on Wednesday in an effort to decrease the jail population and curb costs.  The jail board will pay Avalon Correctional Services $29.99 a day to hold an inmate at the former Adult Detention Center, now know as the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Unit.  CCA is paid $45.81 a day.  If inmates are diverted to Avalon each day, it will save about $500,000 a year.  (Tulsa World)

Spavinaw, Oklahoma
GEO Group

March 4, 2007 Tulsa World
State law prohibits the construction of a new prison at its proposed site because of the facility's proximity to a school, a state legislator said. But Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, added that the representatives of the Florida-based GEO Group Inc. still are interested in building a prison near the small Mayes County town if they can find an alternate location. About 120 students attend the town's prekindergarten through eighth-grade school, which Cox said is less than a mile from the proposed 1,000-bed prison venue. Spavinaw is in Cox's legislative district. "It has to be greater than a mile according to state statute, unless the school board votes to accept it," he said of the prison-to-school radius. "The Spavinaw councilmen tell me that the school board would vote to accept it, but I don't want to do that. I want to abide by the state statutes." Locating the prison out of town not only could satisfy the school requirement, but it also could placate prison officials who would like to build on more level ground, Cox said. He said relocating the facility "a little bit farther out of the im mediate downtown area might defuse some of the folks who had opposition to it, which were the minority." The suggested site is in Spavinaw, which has a population of about 600, Cox said. "We are hoping to find someone in the area who is willing to do a land swap, 36 acres a little farther out of town for the 36 acres in town," Cox said. Proponents of the for-profit prison have said they wanted to leverage landing the correctional facility into funding for a municipal sewer system, which Spavinaw lacks. GEO Group, however, has built a sewer facility on its site, and doing so in Mayes County wouldn't be a "deal-killer," Cox said. GEO Group says erecting a prison near Spavinaw could mean 200 jobs for the business-starved community, not to mention new commerce to accommodate the influx of visitors. People opposing the prison plan worry about public safety as it pertains to escapees, as well as the effect on the town's makeup. Lured by the municipality's setting along Spavinaw Lake, many retire to Spavinaw or purchase second homes there. An estimated 130 people attended the last town meeting about the prison proposal on Jan. 4. No other meetings have been scheduled, Cox said. "I'm still cautiously optimistic," he said.

January 5, 2007 Tulsa World
Angel Green has no health insurance and works two jobs to make do, so talk of industry in her small Mayes County town of Spavinaw -- even if that industry is a private prison -- excites her. "A lot of people here are retirees," Green said of residents who are lured here by the community's scenic waterside setting on Spavinaw Lake. "What they don't understand is that there is a younger generation here that is living at the poverty level or below." A standing-room only crowd of least 130 people turned out Thursday evening for a town meeting to discuss whether the community will embrace a private prison. Leaders of the Florida-based GEO Group Inc. told the audience that the company is considering expanding its for-profit facilities. Although it is looking at several sites, the company has proposed erecting a 1,000-bed prison in Spavinaw, a move that GEO claims would generate 200 jobs. State Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, said Thursday that a prison in Spavinaw could boost the economy in the town of 600 people. "I view this as an industry that doesn't pollute the water, doesn't pollute the ground, doesn't cause the air to smell," he said. Cox said more than 25 percent of residents in his legislative district receive food stamps and that at least 50 percent have no health insurance. Don Houston, senior vice president of the GEO Group, told the crowd that if the prison is located in Spavinaw, it would generate jobs that average $10 an hour and that one-third of the employees wouldn't be corrections officers. "We're 18 months away if they said go tonight," Houston said. "We're at the point of just talking to you." Frank Smith is a national field organizer for Private Corrections Institute, a nonprofit watchdog group that speaks out against private prisons. The Kansan said the Mayes County town isn't large enough to support a correctional facility. "They will manipulate anybody they can to get what they want," he said. "They are interested in a profit. They are not interested in the community."

Turley Correction Facility
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Avalon
tulsaworld.com, Nov 17, 2013

Three years of serious incident reports at the Turley Residential Center detail inappropriate staff and offender relationships, inmates reporting sexual abuse while on work release, inmates disappearing and testing positive for drug use after returning late, and staff charging offenders $20 to get confiscated cellphones back. In most cases, the reports don't document whether staff at the privately operated halfway house contacted law enforcement, nor do they detail any conclusions reached by investigators. Two recently filed lawsuits allege that the halfway house's private operators, Avalon Correctional Services, failed to report sexual abuse and discriminated against a longtime volunteer, and records show a multitude of other problems at the Turley Residential Center, a Tulsa World investigation shows. Volunteers running programs for inmates on faith, success and self-esteem were banned from the facility while others were allowed in to peddle lingerie, sex toys and beauty products, the federal discrimination suit alleges. Spencer Bryan, a Tulsa attorney representing the inmates suing Avalon in Tulsa County District Court for allegedly not reporting sexual abuse that happened while on work release, said the Turley Residential Center is "operating without oversight." "There's a substantial lack of compliance with their record-keeping," Bryan said. "(There's information) that is supposed to be transmitted to DOC, and obviously DOC's not doing anything about it." The World requested interviews and emailed questions to officials at Avalon and the state Department of Corrections. Officials at DOC did not respond prior to publication. Rod Nixon, corporate counsel for Avalon, responded by email to the World's questions. Nixon declined to discuss details because of pending litigation. "I will generally state that her allegations are incorrect and that the allegations are denied," he said. Compliance issues: Each private prison facility in Oklahoma has a Department of Corrections contract monitor, who is required to conduct monthly compliance checks. From January 2011 through August 2013, Turley's contract monitor reports make no mention of any of the serious incident reports obtained by the World or include any results of any of those investigations. The single-page monthly reports mention dirty showers, roof leaks, incomplete paperwork, medical transfers, new hires and the types of vegetables planted in the garden. There are no mentions of the sexual abuse allegations or explanations for why two longtime volunteers were banned from the facility. The same month that records show a volunteer notified staff of an inmate's complaint about sexual harassment by a facility employee, the contract monitor's report states: "Staff and offenders appear to be doing well. There were very little concerns from both." A June 2012 contract monitor's report appears to be concerned with filling beds at Avalon's Turley facility: "Have Case Management staff review the 46 offenders and see how many are under 1,900 days remaining. Will talk to Warden Moham about sending offenders to Turley. There are 3 dorms that are empty." Rickey Moham is the current warden at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, and he was previously warden at Eddie Warrior. Both are Oklahoma's largest women's prisons. The facility's most recent audit by the Department of Corrections reports that missing Turley inmates went undetected for several hours or even overnight and that staff did not document job site checks for inmates or submit paperwork for transfers. Case workers had not been to DOC case management training, and "none of the staff have completed a waiver permitting the District Supervisor to review employee qualifications and disciplinary records," according to the audit. The World obtained these records through an Open Records Act request made Aug. 20, but it took DOC nearly seven weeks to review and provide the requested documents. Discrimination lawsuit: Pamela Smith, whose foundation ran the "My Turning Point" program for two years at the Turley Residential Center, said she was told by administrator Alice Johnson she was getting kicked out for bringing donated dinner rolls to feed the inmates at the facility. Smith said the rolls weren't the reason she was kicked out, but rather that she witnessed and heard things she shouldn't have at Turley — tables of "hooker gear" for sale and inmates' tales of sexual abuse. Her discrimination lawsuit alleges that though the administrator was herself black, "she has shown a certain prejudice against other black women, specifically those black women who demonstrate self-respect and who are successful or attempting to achieve success." The suit is pending in the Northern District of U.S. District Court. "Pamela Smith is trying to make good people out of people who've made a mistake," said Anthony Allen, her attorney. Smith said she frequently gave inmates things they needed — clothes for work, toilet paper and donated food given to her by supporters. For two years, officials didn't have a problem with it, she said. Leo Brown, volunteer coordinator for DOC, wrote Smith a letter in June saying her volunteer status was suspended for not following rules and guidelines and not getting prior approval to bring the dinner rolls to inmates at Turley. Work release jobs for any offenders she employed at her foundation's thrift shop were allowed to continue, the letter states. In a July 29 letter, Johnson states the "My Turning Point" program was being canceled at Turley for bringing "unauthorized items" — wigs and dinner rolls — into the facility and "unprofessional/confrontational behavior." "I did bring bread in," Smith said. "I brought bread in for two years, and Miss Johnson ate the bread." Smith said as someone who spent time in prison herself more than a decade ago, she only wants to help the inmates at Turley. Any potential damages received from the lawsuit will go directly toward continuing the My Turning Point program, she said. "(Johnson) was mad because I saw the hooker stuff and the girls started to tell me things," Smith said. "I wanted to make sure nobody mistreats these girls." The lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of inmates was filed in Tulsa County District Court in August. It alleges Turley's female inmates were routinely subjected to sexual battery and harassment by employers through work-release programs. The inmates said they were subjected to unwanted and repeated touching and groping of the buttocks and breasts, pulling down clothing to expose body parts and unwanted kissing. When the women reported the abuses to Avalon staff, the staff would retaliate against them by issuing unfounded misconducts, accusing them of lying, refusing to contact law enforcement or discharging them from the facility, according to the lawsuit.

October 31, 2002
A former Turley Correctional Center staff member was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison on a charge of raping an inmate there.  Tulsa County District Judge Linda Morrissey agreed to review the sentence of Thomas Edward Hawkins in six months, at which time he can seek to be released on probation.  The charge did not allege that Hawkins forcibly had sex with the woman, and the law does not require proof of force in this type of case.   It is illegal for a guard or jailer to have sexual contact -- consensual or not -- with an inmate or prisoner, prosecutors said.  A DOC report said Hawkins was fired a year ago from his employment at Turley Correctional Center, a halfway house owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc.  (Tulsaworld.com)

September 6, 2002
A former Turley Correctional Center employee pleaded no contest Thursday to a charge of raping a female inmate there. Sentencing for Thomas Edward Hawkins, 23, is set for Oct. 29. It is illegal for a guard or jailer to have sexual contact -- consensual or not -- with an inmate or prisoner, prosecutors said. Hawkins is no longer employed at the Turley Correctional Center, a halfway house owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc. (Tulsa World)

November 21, 2001
A Tulsa man was charged Tuesday in connection with the rape of an inmate at Turley Correctional Center.  Prosecutors charged Thomas Edward Hawkins, 22, in Tulsa County District Court with one count of second-degree rape stemming from a March 19 encounter with an inmate while he was a guard at the center.  Turley Correctional Center, a halfway house at 6101 N. Cincinnati Ave., is owned by Avalon Correctional Services Inc. and is occupied mostly by female inmates, a spokeswoman had said.  (Tulsa World)

March 27, 2001
A guard at an Oklahoma women's prison has been questioned about leering at an inmate a month before he was accused of raping another inmate, The Oklahoman has learned. According to a Tulsa County Sheriff's Department report, the woman told investigators that the guard told her to clean a rest room about 11 p.m. March 19 at Turley. He went into the rest room with her and locked the doors, the woman said in the report. She said he placed his hands up her shirt, and when she resisted he implied that he would write her up on a misconduct complaint if she didn't cooperate. Also in the sheriff's report, detectives wrote that Turley officials showed them that the suspect was reprimanded for a Feb. 19 incident of sexual misconduct.

Union City Center Juvenile Center
Union City, Oklahoma
Avalon
July 16, 2004
An attorney for three former inmates at an Oklahoma juvenile detention center filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking more than $75,000 in damages from the correctional institute and five workers there.  The lawsuit alleges some of the workers provided the juveniles with gin, beer, malt liquor and cigars during a supervised weekend away from the Union City Juvenile Center, south of El Reno. It also claims a female worker had sex with a juvenile.  A 2002 report by the Office of Juvenile Affairs confirmed both claims, and Avalon Correctional Services Inc., which ran the center, fired the female worker that same year. Other involved employees were disciplined or fired.  (News Ok)

November 21, 2002
Canadian County prosecutors are asking the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into allegations that a former Union City Juvenile Center employee had sex with a youth who had been incarcerated there. The employee involved had worked at the detention center, which is operated by Avalon Correctional Services. The detention center had been used by the state Office of Juvenile Affairs until the agency ended its contract with Avalon in a cost- cutting move.

October 18, 2002
A report issued by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth states the Union City Detention Center didn't properly treat juveniles with developmental problems and alleges staff abuse.  The report, released Wednesday by the commission, was assailed by Avalon Correctional Services-- the company that owns the Union City center-- and the state Office of Juvenile Affairs as being inaccurate.  The findings are based on unannounced inspections in March and May of the detention center, which holds youthful offenders from across the state.  Among the allegations listed in the report:  Staff at the detention center didn't properly treat juveniles with low IQ scores and failed to list IQ scores on seven resident's files.  Some residents complained that rules often changed without their knowledge and that staff sometimes cursed at them, hit them and punished them by making them do up to 100 push-ups.  The report comes less than a week after the state Board of Juvenile Affairs voted to cut Avalon's contract in a cost-cutting move.  The commission alleged that a grievance box-- a secure box in which residents can place written grievances-- was left unlocked.  Resident interviews with the commission alleged that detention center staff members had taken grievances out of the box and torn them up.  (The Oklahoman)

October 18, 2002
An Office of Juvenile Affairs investigation confirmed allegations of sexual relations between a client and staff member at the Union City Juvenile Center, a privately run facility that houses youthful offenders.  The Office of Juvenile Affairs report also confirmed allegations that some residents of a transitional living program were drinking and smoking off campus.  Staff members involved in the incident were fired or disciplined, according to Avalon officials.  Other findings in the OJA report include: A staff member who was verbally and emotionally abusive. Failure to give second helpings of food. Group punishment. Residents allowed to punish other residents. Short staffing. Clients were required to work into the early morning hours to prepare the facility for monitoring visits by outside agencies. "All state-operated and private facilities are legally required to self report any incident of mistreatment, neglect or abuse," said Rhonda Burgess, an OJA spokeswoman.  Avalon and the OJA are embroiled in a dispute after the agency's board voted last week to terminate its contract with the facility to house 80 youthful offenders.  The juveniles will be transferred to state-run facilities by Dec. 2, Burgess said.  The OJA's decision to cancel the contract was made in light of a statewide budget shortfall.  (Tulsa World News)

October 11, 2002
The Board of Juvenile Affairs on Thursday eliminated its entire contract with a private juvenile facility in Union City.  The board last month made a partial cut to the contract it has with Avalon Correctional Services, which runs the Union City facility just southeast of Oklahoma City.  The cut involved only 24 offenders and saved the state $555,680.  Eliminating the entire contract, with Avalon Correctional Services to run the Union City facility will save the agency $3.8 million, Burgess said.  "There are a lot of costs in state institutions which aren't in other contracts, like medical," said Richard DeLaughter, OJA director.  "The state has to pick up the medical costs for the kids in Union City."  (Tulsa World.com)

October 10, 2002
The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs spends twice as much money on payroll at its Manitou detention center as does a privately run center in Union City that watches the same number of juvenile inmates. The juvenile affairs office already has slashed its contract with Union City's operator, Avalon Correctional Services, and the agency's governing board will consider scrapping the contract completely during a meeting today in Poteau. The move is being considered as the agency struggles to deal with mandatory budget cuts because of the state's tax revenue shortfall this year. (NewsOK.com)

September 22, 2002
The Office of Juvenile Affairs on Friday made nearly $4.9 million in cuts from its $122 million budget, including the removal of 24 youthful offenders form a private facility in Union City.  The 24 juveniles will be transferred from Union City to other state-run facilities, such as the L.E. Rader Center at Sand Springs, said Jim Helm, Office of Juvenile Affairs Board chairman.  "We believe they can handle the cut of 24 beds," Helm said.  The change will save the agency $555,680.  The board had considered eliminating its entire $3.8 million contract with Avalon Correctional Services to house youthful offenders at the Union City facility, which has a capacity of 80 beds.  (Tulsa World News)

September 20, 2002
A contract to house youthful offenders will be among the items on the cutting board Friday as the Office of Juvenile Affairs considers ways to pare $5 million from its $122 million budget.  One of the items being considered is OJA's contract with Avalon Correctional Services, which built and runs an 80-bed facility in Union City that houses youthful offenders.  The Office of Juvenile Affairs declined to comment on the proposed contract cut or release specific information about any cuts.  James Saffle, Avalon president and former director of the Department of Corrections, is questioning how the Office of Juvenile Affairs is conducting business, saying he was not questioning how the Office of Juvenile Affairs is conducting business, saying he was not given any advance notice of a proposal to eliminate the contract, which is for about $3.7 million a year.  He said the lack of notice to his company and lack of information forthcoming from OJA will send a negative signal to other private vendors who might consider doing business with the state.  (Tulsa World News)

July, 1999
There have been six escapees since the center opened in February of this year. The latest escapee, being held on drug and auto theft convictions was caught minutes after scaling the center’s fence. The escape ignited a 45-minute rampage by three other inmates who attacked guards, damaged the building before they too, tried to escape. They were caught in the exercise yard. (The Daily Oklahoman, July 20-21, 1999)

Warner, Oklahoma
Detention Solutions

February 19, 2008 Muskogee Phoenix
Numerous university studies from Washington State and Ohio State, Iowa State, Kentucky and Kentucky State, and from the Sentencing Project think tank conclude otherwise. Studies include Susan E. Blankenship and Ernest J. Yanarella, “Prison Recruitment as a Policy Tool of Local Economic Development: A Critical Evaluation;” Ryan Scott King, Marc Mauer and Tracy Huling, “An Analysis of the Economics of Prison Siting in Rural Communities;” Terry L. Besser and Margaret M. Hanson, “The Development of Last Resort: The Impact of New State Prisons on Small Town Economies” (www.privateci.org/private_pics/Prison%20Impact%20Report.doc). For-profits pay shameful wages and have staggering employee turnover, 52 percent annually at last admission. Last month a Texas for-profit prison manager told me they pay new guards $7 an hour. (In 2006, the Corrections Corporation of America CEO made $22.5 million.) Due to contractual difficulties, private prisons at Hinton and Sayre were closed from months to years with massive layoffs, leaving hosting communities reeling. An annual California survey indicates for-profits have 30 times the escape rate of public prisons. Tulsa World files recount 19 escapes and mistaken releases between 2000 and 2005, when local facilities were finally taken back from for-profit operators. A 1998 Hinton escape caused Oklahoma’s DOC to fine Cornell Corrections $304,000. In 2007, Hinton escapees kidnapped a 71-year-old local woman hostage, taking a second elderly woman hostage 50 miles away in Oklahoma City, apparently before the fleeing convicts were even missed. They were captured in Tulsa. Riots in CCA Oklahoma prisons in 2003, 2004 and 2005 included murder. CCA had massive riots in other states during the four months following the 2003 Watonga riot. Hardin, Mont., officials are seeking relief after hosting a $27 million speculative prison development without prospects of it ever holding a single prisoner. Bonds payments are rapidly coming due. Corporate music men may sing sweet songs, but Warner really needs to turn a deaf ear upon them. Frank Smith, national field organizer, Private Corrections Institute www.privateci.org Bluff City, Kan.