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Prison fined $304,000 after brief escape

HINTON, Okla. (AP) -- The state Department of Corrections is making the Great Plains Correctional Facility pay a steep price for a recent escape.

The department has fined the private prison $304,375 for alleged security breaches that allowed the escape to occur April 12, The Daily Oklahoman reported.

Gordon Flud was caught in the parking lot of the prison moments after he jumped fences, avoided razor wire and climbed down the prison administration building's rainspout.

Dennis Cunningham, private prison administrator for the Corrections Department, informed warden Sam Calbone and the chairman of the Hinton Economic Development Authority of the penalty in a letter dated May 10. The economic development authority owns the prison.

According to the letter, corrections officials made recommendations to improve security after an inmate escaped in December 1998.

Like the first escapee 16 months before, Flud "was able to exit the facility via the administration building roof because all of the security upgrades and improvements ... had not been made," Cunningham wrote.

The penalty is the largest ever assessed against an Oklahoma private prison. It breaks the record of $168,750 that the state fined the Hinton prison in March for not meeting medical service obligations in a contract.

Calbone called the fine "very exorbitant and unreasonable and, for the most part, unjustified."

He said the prison complied with all the agency's directives and spent $80,000 to make improvements after the first escape.

Corrections officials plan to withhold the $304,000 from Great Plains' state contract. The penalty amounts to roughly nine or 10 days of free rent for the state.
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