State Department of Corrections

Michael Coghlan

The state medical examiner's office says the death of an inmate last month at the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville was due to strangulation.

Office spokeswoman Amy Elliott says the Dec. 2 death of 28-year-old Eric Grimm has been ruled a homicide.

It's the second strangulation at the private prison, following that of 22-year-old Tony Czernicki who was found strangled in his cell in October. Both inmates had cellmates.

Prison officials say they don't believe the two deaths are related.

Robert Patton, Director, Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma's prison system chief says the state has the drugs it needs to execute four inmates early next year and plans to administer the same three drugs used in a botched execution this spring.

Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told a federal judge Friday the agency plans to use the exact formula used successfully in 11 executions in Florida, one that he believes is "humane."

The judge plans to rule Monday in a case in which lawyers for 21 death row inmates say the sedative midazolam presents a risk of cruel and unusual punishment.

Ben Fenwick
Oklahoma Watch

Pushing to reduce prison overcrowding, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has quietly changed its policies to give early releases to greater numbers of violent and sex offenders, according to agency documents obtained by Oklahoma Watch.

The department is doing so by relaxing policies that determine which types of inmates can receive early-release credits, when those credits can be given, and how many credits offenders can receive, corrections department records show.

Charles Frederick Warner
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says the state does not have the drugs on hand or the medical staff prepared needed to carry out a Nov. 13 execution, and is requesting a delay until January.

In a notice filed late Friday with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, Pruitt formally asked the court to delay the upcoming executions of Richard Eugene Glossip, John Marion Grant and Charles Warner.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma prison officials have spent more than $106,000 renovating the death chamber inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

The Department of Corrections is allowing members of the media inside the prison's maximum-security H-unit on Thursday to see the new room.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Two news organizations have filed a federal lawsuit accusing Oklahoma prison officials of violating the First Amendment by preventing reporters from viewing portions of a botched execution. 

Monday's lawsuit follows the April 29 death of inmate Clayton Lockett, who writhed, moaned and clenched his teeth before dying. Prison officials halted the execution after discovering a problem with an intravenous line. Lockett died of a heart attack about 10 minutes later.

Most Oklahoma Prisons Are Over Capacity

Aug 16, 2014
Atoka County Times

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ effort to shift thousands of state prisoners out of county jails has resulted in nearly two-thirds of state prisons being over capacity.

The Corrections Department is placing many inmates in designated “temporary” beds in various common areas of prisons, such as a gymnasium or day room.

In a related move, the agency is proposing to revise how it determines the maximum capacity of its prisons, by using a higher “operational” capacity that includes temporary beds, on top of the current “rated design capacity” — the number of inmates a facility is designed to hold. Under operational capacity, the current reported percentages of occupancy at many prisons could drop from over to under 100 percent.

The recent inmate population growth is raising concerns from the head of the state correctional officers’ group, who says safety is being compromised because inmates are being added while correctional staffing levels remain inadequate.

“I think it’s absolutely putting them (officers) in a dangerous spot,” said Sean Wallace, director of Oklahoma Correctional Professionals. “I’ve heard it from staff before … but now I’m hearing it directly from officers – they’re afraid to go to work.”

According to the corrections department’s Aug. 4 count of inmates, 16 of the state’s 24 minimum-, medium- and maximum-security prisons were at more than 100 percent capacity. The number slipped to 15 the following week. Five facilities had more than 100 inmates above their official capacity limits.

State Auditor Gary Jones
State Auditor's Office

A recent audit of Oklahoma's prison system recommends more financial oversight from the governing board and a closer look at the increasing cost of health care.

The performance audit released Tuesday by State Auditor Gary Jones was requested by Gov. Mary Fallin following the resignation of former Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones.

The audit includes 10 recommendations to help the department reduce costs and better manage its inmate population. Among the recommendations is the creation of an audit committee to help the board ensure financial accountability.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Board of Corrections is expected to meet behind closed doors to discuss an ongoing investigation into the botched execution of a death row inmate.

The board is to meet at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown.

An agenda item says the board will meet in executive session to discuss the investigation and "possible litigation" regarding the April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett.

prison bars
mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma House has given final approval to a $13 million supplemental funding measure to help Oklahoma's prison system pay its bills for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The House voted 68-23 for the measure Tuesday and sent it to Gov. Mary Fallin's desk to be signed into law. 

In a separate vote, House members voted 81-8 for an emergency clause that would permit the measure to go into effect as soon as it is signed. The Senate passed the measure last week.

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