LeFlore County jail inspection

Tuesday, March 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

POTEAU, Okla. (AP) _ State Health Department inspectors found 24 violations during a recent tour of the Le Flore County jail, including two inmates _ one of them mentally handicapped _ handcuffed to jail bars.

As a result, the department has ordered the county fix the jail, close it or face up to $12,000 a day in fines.

``If the feds would have seen that, I know what would have happened,'' Don Garrison, the Health Department's chief jail inspector, said Monday. ``They would have shut that sucker down on sight.''

Garrison referred to the U.S. Justice Department's inspection in December. Federal authorities opened an investigation into civil rights violations based on living conditions at the jail.

The jail had 89 inmates _ 39 over capacity _ on the day it was inspected. Inspectors also found, among other things, that only 64 inmates had mattresses, and that jailers hadn't had any training in a year.

Garrison said he found a mentally ill inmate handcuffed to bars inside a small room. A female inmate who had been caught fighting also was handcuffed to bars in a jail hallway.

The Health Department fines have not been assessed yet. Department officials are waiting to see if the county fixes the problems or asks for a hearing on the matter.