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Dear Director Patton

Sep 26, 2014 | by Nation_Inside_Team

Must read!! OCP just received a copy of the following letter from the ACLU of Oklahoma to Director Patton, dated August 29th.

Must read!! OCP just received a copy of the following letter from the ACLU of Oklahoma to Director Patton, dated August 29th.

Dear Director Patton,

We write to you today to voice our concern regarding the increasingly dangerous situations developing in DOC facilities, and particularly at Lexington Assessment and Reception Center (LARC). As you may be aware, the ACLU of Oklahoma receives a substantial amount of communication from DOC prisoners, as well as their families, friends, and attorneys. We are no strangers to the ongoing crisis of over-incarceration and the resulting pressures that crisis places upon our state’s prison system.

Based on recent complaints received during the past few weeks, we have noticed a disturbing and rapidly developing pattern, and we feel compelled to inform you directly because of our increasing concern for the risks posed to those under both the Department’s employ and custody.

This concern stems from an increase in the number and severity of complaints we are receiving. The changes in the tone and timbre of recent complaints, give us the general impressions that some of the Department’s facilities are rapidly developing a pressure cooker environment. In our two year tenure at the helm of the ACLU of Oklahoma, we have never before encountered complaints in this volume and urgency.

The most concerning complaints are regarding LARC. We suspect this is due to the inmate surge caused by the clearing of county jail transport backlogs earlier this year, leading to an institutional bottleneck. As a whole, it appears inmates are spending far longer in LARC than usual, in some cases upwards of three months, all without many basic provisions available to inmates once they “pull yard,” such as proper toiletries and even underwear. It also appears that despite the predictability of this surge, basic preparations such as ensuring the availability of sufficient food, supplies, and staff, were never made.

These conditions, where combined with extreme understaffing, including reports of understaffed (and at times completely unstaffed) security posts, pose substantial risks of injury or death to both inmates and DOC staff. Unless such conditions improve quickly, it seems the dispositive question will not be if violence or outright riots will occur, but when.

While we will continue to advocate for reforms that address the growing crisis, we do not write to you today seeking any particular remedy. Rather, we reach out to you as citizens of Oklahoma to share our concerns for the current safety and well-being of those employed by and in the custody of our corrections system.

We are happy to visit with you about this matter in person, and will continue our efforts to avert the human disaster handed to you by Oklahoma’s Legislature and other elected officials, who continue to send the Department too many inmates and too few resources to provide for their safety, welfare, or rehabilitation.

Sincerely,
Ryan Kiesel
Executive Director