Family, Friends Of Inmates Call For Communication, Transparency At Correctional Center

Friday, September 11th 2020, 9:27 pm
By: Chinh Doan

TAFT, Okla. -

Family and friends of inmates rallied outside the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, calling for communication and transparency as new numbers show more than 700 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Department of Corrections reported more than 400 inmates at the center who tested positive have recovered. Still, many people said they’re worried more inmates could die.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Sept. 11 reports updated the following new numbers:

  1. 352 positive inmate cases
  2. 428 recovered inmates
  3. 1 inmate hospitalized 
  4. 1 possible covid-19 related death 
  5. 2 positive staff cases 
  6. 15 recovered staff

Friday evening, dozens of people, including neighbors, advocates, family and friends of inmates, rallied outside the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, calling for communication and transparency. 

The group chanted, “Orange lives matter” and “No justice, no peace” while holding signs. 

Rally organizer Tiffany Walton said she’s a Taft resident and nurse who recently worked in New York during the pandemic and wanted the public to be aware about the COVID-19 outbreak here. 

“We’re not to judge them,” said Walton. “They’re doing their time, but they did not deserve to die by COVID.” 

News On 6 also saw some inmates holding signs outside their prison windows that read, “Our lives matter” and “No air or shower for days.” 

An inmate, who asked not to be identified, said she tested positive this week

“I don’t understand how all of us could be positive or what’s going on or how it got here,” said the inmate. “It’s just a lot right now. Everyone is dealing with it in different ways.” 

Another inmate said she’s among only 21 inmates who have not tested positive. She said the non-infected inmates are together in one building.

“The bunks are just all in the building together,” said the inmate. “There’s nothing separating us. I mean we have masks and light cleaners and sanitizing stuff, but there’s nothing separately us.” 

Leila Davis, a Taft City Council Member and former Taft mayor, called for transparency and communication. 

“The city council had not been contacted about the many cases that are up here,” said Davis. “And that’s my concern because we have children here. We have a school here and people going in and out.”

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections shared this statement:

“While ODOC appreciates citizen engagement and freedom of speech, it is unfortunate they chose to demonstrate adjacent to one of our facilities. Due to the security risk posed, inmates at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center must remain inside their dorms during the rally.”

For the latest updates on ODOC’s COVID-19 cases, click here.