OKLAHOMA CITY (20 May 2020) – The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) transferred “70+” inmates from the Comanche County Detention Center (CCDC) to a state prison Wednesday, Comanche County Commissioner Johnny Owens reported.
Apparently all of them were male inmates and were transported to the North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre. In addition, some female inmates were to be taken to Mabel Bassett Correctional Center at McLoud, ODOC Communications Director Justin Wolf said.
All of the inmates who were transferred have had two consecutive negative tests for the coronavirus, and will be housed in units separate from state prisoners, Wolf said. Comanche County jail inmates who have tested positive will remain quarantined in the CCDC.
State Health Commissioner Gary Cox placed the Comanche County jail under quarantine May 16 after 126 inmates and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. The lockdown will continue “until the Commissioner or his designee determines the individuals under the quarantine in this facility are no longer determined a threat to public health,” Cox wrote in a compliance letter dated May 16.
“Our Pandemic Planning Guide accounted for the potential need to quarantine a large number of inmates,” Corrections Director Scott Crow said. “Due to the agency’s success in preventing any outbreaks, we are able to share resources with our county partners.” Only two of the state’s nearly 24,000 prison inmates have tested positive for the virus, Crow said.
All of the Comanche County inmates will remain in the legal custody of the CCDC while ODOC provides housing, board, and routine medical care, he said.
The Corrections Department “will seek reimbursement from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Wolf said.
The agreement between the Comanche County Facilities Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections continues through June 10, Wolf said.
Movement of the inmates from the CCDC to the state prisons will bring the Comanche County jail’s inmate population to or below the authorized maximum of 283 for perhaps the first time in years.
As of Sunday night, 340 inmates – 57 overcapacity – were confined in the facility, the jail’s website showed.
Barry Edwards, manager of the State Health Department’s Detention Program, said the last annual inspection of the Comanche County Detention Center occurred Dec. 13, 2019. The inmate population then was 347, he said.
A report by the State Department of Health indicates the Comanche County jail was “out of compliance” during three inspections the agency performed last year: in January, October and December 2019.
In fact, the CCDC has been cited for “deficiencies” in each of the last five years “and they have repeated deficiencies for being over-capacity,” Shelley Zumwalt, spokesperson for the State Health Department, said Tuesday