Tulsa Jail undergoes new review
By SUSAN HYLTON Tulsa World Staff Writer
Former employees said they instigated the second visit by accreditors.
A representative of the American Correctional Association was in Tulsa on Monday for a second audit of the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, a facility the accrediting group deemed "second-to-none" in March.
Former jail employees Debrah Cartwright, who was an addictions treatment manager, and Shelle Dummer, who was an addictions treatment counselor, said the visit was prompted by documentation that they and other former and current employees sent to the group. That documentation illustrates the jail's practice of pepper- spraying inmates and restraining certain inmates with leg irons, belly chains and handcuffs during their required recreation hour.
"We point-blank told them if they didn't check it out and see what was going on, that we were going to turn it over to the media," Cartwright said.
Corrections Corporation of America operates the Tulsa Jail. A CCA memo dated April 22 states that inmates in disciplinary confinement and prehearing detention "will be leg-ironed, handcuffed and belly-chained in the recreation yard. . . . No more than six (inmates) on recreation at one time."
It was a procedure, sent by unit manager John Wilkerson, that Dummer said she knew was out of compliance with proper jail protocol. "It was horrid watching those people shuffle around in there," she said.
Dummer alleged that when she questioned the practice, Warden Jim Cooke told her that it was none of her business and that he could puree inmates' food if he wanted.
CCA spokesman Chris Howard said Cooke, who declined an interview request, was not interested in commenting about conversations that took place in his office.
Howard did say, however, that the jail adopted a new procedure in June that stopped the use of restraints and allowed only one inmate at a time in the recreation yard. The procedure was changed again in July, to permit two inmates in the recreation yard, with no restraints.
"At that time, we may not have been in compliance with ACA standards," which may have necessitated the change from the April procedure, Howard said.
Dummer, who had been assigned to inmate disciplinary investigations, said the restraint procedure was still posted in one of the female housing pods earlier this month.
Then you agree also that Douglas`s described incident sounds like appropriate action was taken. Not because the supreme court says so but because appropriate verbal intervention was tried first. Thats the point I was trying to make. The force continuum is a wonderfully legal guide line to the proper use of force,not a mandate to hurry up and use OC. You say the use of OC reduces the need for physical confrontation? Sometimes. Not always. Ill take it a step further. I say the use of well thought out and and utilized IPC skills often reduce the need for OC spray or physical handling. Then the courts dont have to be involved. That costs money too. I would just like to see more sincere emphasis placed on talk down before take down. I guess there is no exact science to this business but at least you never stop learning. Thank you both for your input. Im still learning.
the Supreme Court has ruled what is 'objectively reasonable force' in arrest and jail/prison situations. All corrections staff supposedly have been trained in the 'use of force continum' which describes the accelerated levels of force to be used in situations. In the door kicking situation where the inmate refuses to stop, he is endangering his own safety as well as the safety of the institution and the resulting restlessness of the other inmates. If the means of verbal intervention do not result in settling the situation than it would be appropriate to apply OC pepper spray to bring him under control. This type of force reduces the need for physical confrontaion where both parties could be injured. There is no lasting damage from pepper spray.
The way you explained that situation sounds like totally appropriate action was taken. If talking and appropriate verbal intervention dont deescalate a situation then you are left with no other choice but to use the next levels of force as needed. And as AW0099 said that would be use of OC spray. I know by your earlier posts that you recognize the value of good IPC skills and Im concerned that we far to often under utilize them. I dont know about anyone else but it makes me sick when I see inmates winning lawsuits for actions they bring on themselves. Without knowing the arena we work in courts,judges and jurys get to second guess every action taken in corrections enviornments. Knowing that is what we have to deal with I believe it prudent on our part to seriously consider and use every option short of chemicals and physical handling first.I dont know the actual figures but Im sure it costs millions industry wide to settle these law suits. Thats money that could pay off dept. It also hurts public perception when they read the front page stories.All that costs you and I money. Oh and its safer for the staff too.Sounds like we agree on this one. Thanks for the dialogue.
Just a few points please. Over 75% of the early releases were by employees that once worked for the Sheriffs Department. Most of the negative leaks have been from the employees that have been let go or resigned under Mr. Cook. The City Council knows that the Sheriff knows that, and the almighty SUSAN HYLTON knows that. That is why the powers to be have been so understanding. One last point this place was built like a country club not a jail. If the Audit confirms that their has been some issues then good they will be corrected. I would like to know why these two women left and who was their previous employer.
To answer your question aw0099... The two women who raised these issues were Debrah Cartwright former Addiction Treatment Manager, (similar to Unit Manager) had been with CCA for nine years and resigned because Warden Cook ordered her to lie to judges about the Addiction Treatment Program curriculum.
Shellie Dummer has been with CCA for two years and came from an American Indian Addiction treatment Facility. She was also assigned to be discipline hearing investigator and in her duties discovered that seg inmates were being given rec time in leg shackles and belly chains, by written policy from the unit manager. She also took testimony from staff that a seg inmate had been OC sprayed, by orders of a Unit Manager, through the bean hole for banging on the inside of his door with his hand (hardly a threat to anyone or anything). She resigned after having tried to correct these situations, because she was just fed up with these and other abuses to numerous to mention.