House Criminal Justice, Corrections Committee Hears DOC Rape Investigation Update

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Members of the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, chaired by Rep. Justin, Humphrey, R-Lane, this week discussed conditions in state prisons, including the status of rape investigations from the Department of Corrections as well as reports of a possible meningitis outbreak.

Humphrey, who has a background in corrections, said he emailed each member of the committee a copy of rape allegations in state prison facilities that he's received since March 17. He also shared several videos with members showing an alleged rape and other assaults. He said in addition there were reports of four inmate deaths in the past week.

"When we're talking about a 10-day window for all of this to be occurring it should be a shock," Humphrey said. "For the last couple of years, I have repeatedly said, what you're going to see is an escalation. You're going to see more drugs come into the penitentiary. We're seeing that. You're going to see inmate on inmate violence. We're seeing that. You're going to see rapes increase. You're going to see more inmate on staff violence. We're seeing that.

"The next level of escalation will be extremely, extremely scary because that's where you start to get into killings, things like that. We should not wait for that to happen. We should be aware of these issues. That's why I'm calling these out continuously."

Regarding reports of a possible meningitis outbreak, Humphrey shared with committee members a memo from the Department of Corrections that shows one current incidence of meningitis in state prisons. He said this differs from inmate reports that include allegations of not receiving proper cleaning supplies or being allowed to take showers, things which could slow an outbreak of the illness.

He urged members to do their own investigation to determine the truth of the reports, and suggested having the state Department of Labor come in to assess sanitation and other issues in the prisons.

Humphrey says he receives calls about rapes and other violence in state prisons on a daily basis – between 30 to 50 calls per week – as well as reports of extortion of family members of inmates. He said he's also heard from department employees that administrators are doctoring Prison Rape Elimination Act reports and audits.

He said he reports as many of the accusations as he can to the Department of Corrections or other law enforcement, and he's shared previous reports with those groups as well. He said he's also turned over stacks of allegations to the Federal Bureau of investigation, but has not heard much back from them.

"Quite frankly, I'm overwhelmed," he said.

Humphrey had emailed committee members a video of a rape at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center that he received from the inmate. He said it was obvious from the video that the perpetrator was an officer, and to his knowledge the officer has already been charged for the crime. He said shortly after receiving the video, he received a call from an inmate at the prison saying these incidences are a near daily occurrence. Humphrey has also forwarded videos of other assaults within Oklahoma prisons to committee members.

Humphrey said he also got a call in the last 10 days from a rape victim at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton. He said the inmate had asked not to be returned to his cell; when he was, he was raped, and is now in the hospital. Humphrey said the incident has been reported, but he said it's still important for these allegations to be made public.

Humphrey asked committee members to help him ensure a proper investigation is done into the allegations received.