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A prison in Oklahoma likely violated state Department of Corrections policy when it housed prisoners in shower stalls for days.
Prison staff at Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton, Oklahoma locked up to 17 prisoners in two-by-two foot shower stalls. The findings come from an incident report obtained and reported by Oklahoma Watch on Monday.
In an interview with Oklahoma Watch, 41-year-old James Shelton said he was locked in a shower stall for over 24 hours with no bathroom breaks.
“It’s disorganized,” Shelton told the publication’s Keaton Ross.
An August incident report shows prison staff who were sent to GPCC from another facility advocated for the Oklahoma prisoners.
Staff from John Lilley Correctional Center who assisted at GPCC told prison officials the conditions of the prisoners violated their civil rights. Some prisoners reported being forced to urinate and defecate into cups.
GPCC Chief of Security Beau Runnels appeared to brush off the concerns in a response.
“…two sides to every coin and…this facility is not for everyone,” Runnels allegedly said, according to the incident report.
Oklahoma recently took over control of the prison in May. Previously, it was a private prison run by the notorious GeoGroup.
The Department of Corrections’ Office of the Inspector General performed an employee investigation. It found that prisoners were indeed locked in shower stalls for up to three days at a time. Some prisoners said they went without food, water or bathroom breaks.
According to DOC policy, Oklahoma prisoners are entitled to a mattress, pillow, bedding and sleep surface that is at least 12 inches off the ground.
In his report, the Inspector General said the visiting staff who complained about the conditions tried to provide the Oklahoma prisoners with basic necessities, including pillows and bedding.
“When the nightshift officers provided these items to the inmates, they were reprimanded for their actions and told that the inmates were placed there for disciplinary reasons so they would not want to be there anymore,” the report stated.
Worried about potentially facing criminal charges in a “hostile work environment” the supporting staff who complained ultimately returned to JLCC in Boley, the incident report stated.
The Inspector General confirmed the prison had stopped locking prisoners in shower stalls, according to his report. Yet staff weren’t cited for violating prisoners’ civil rights. They were cited for improper record-keeping.
The Black Wall Street Times reached out to Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections spokesperson Kay Thompson. We asked whether any new policies or procedures will be implemented to ensure Oklahoma prisoners aren’t locked in shower stalls in the future. We did not immediately receive a response.