Okmulgee County Jail Director Blames Overcrowding For Recent Riot
OKMULGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - A fight at the Okmulgee County jail caused $10,000 in damage and sent one inmate to the hospital. The jail director blames the violent outbreak on extreme overcrowding.
The executive director at the jail said the building was originally built for around 150 inmates but there is currently more than double that number.
The overcrowding is causing some issues, like what happened there Monday morning.
There were burned mattresses, broken glass, flooding and barricaded units according to the Okmulgee County Jail Director John Martin.
A response, he said, that came about after one inmate got upset over being transferred and that anger quickly spread among the group.
Jail employees responded using what he called less than lethal force.
“To hear that he was tazed, hit with a Tazer, and pepper sprayed this morning. It upsets me,” one woman said.
The woman said her fiancé is in the jail for a parole violation and called her right before the fight broke out.
“He said it was getting ready to go down, or whatever, it was gonna be a riot. They were talking about blocking the sprinklers and throwing some sort of fire bomb or something like that,” she said.
The jail was originally built for 154 inmates then approved for 226, but as of Monday morning, the executive director said they are housing 323 inmates.
He said they're working with the tools they have and call the crowding issue unfortunate, and that he will take any help he can get to assist his 33-person staff.
“There's supposed to be two per cell but there's, like you know, five or six in a cell,” the woman said. “People are sleeping under beds and in walkways; some aren't on mats but on the floor.”
A new jail is set to be built in town and finished in less than two years. It is designed to house between 200 and 300 inmates.
Once built the current jail will remain open as well.