Juvenile Detention Center In Muskogee County To Reopen
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - The Muskogee County Juvenile Detention Center is finally on track to reopen after being closed for nearly six months.
The detention center closed in January after an inmate died by suicide last year. Now, after an investigation and some safety improvements, they're ready to reopen the doors.
16-year-old Billy Woods hanged himself in the detention center on December 15, 2016. The tragedy immediately caught the attention of State Representative Avery Frix.
"When I learned of the tragic accident, the family of the young man reached out to me and I asked the Oklahoma Juvenile Authority for an investigation," said Frix.
The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs stepped in immediately, temporarily shutting the center down and launching an investigation.
"There were some findings that the Juvenile Authority wasn't completely comfortable with," said Muskogee County Commissioner Kenny Payne.
Commissioner Payne says losing the center, even temporarily, hit Muskogee County hard.
"They're probably 80 percent full, at least, all the time. So losing one kind of put everyone else in a bind. So we're all anxious to get it back open," said Payne. "We want to get to the bottom of something like that just like everyone else does, if for no better reason than to make sure it can never happen again."
He says they've made direct improvements in the living units to make them safer and non-conducive to incidents like this one. They've also hired a new operations company to maker sure the detention center stays up to par in the future.
Payne says they are on track to reopen within the next month.