Seven Oklahoma prisons still on lockdown after fights

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP) 8-08

Seven Oklahoma prisons remain on lockdown status after a series of fights state corrections officials think might have been coordinated.

The seven prisons have been on lockdown since the fights broke out between May 20 and June 30. On the latter day, fights occurred at four separate facilities across the state.

The facilities on lockdown are the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, where two inmates were stabbed to death during a fight on May 20; the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, the Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown; the Lawton Correctional Facility; the Davis Correctional Center in Holdenville; the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing and the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

“We’re investigating to see whether they (inmates) found some way or another to communicate,” Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said. “The attacks happened at different times. We’re not sure if they corresponded with news coverage or if inmates are using some kind of communication.”

Massie said it’s possible that some inmates might have used cell phones to communicate, even though the devices are banned in prisons.

The DOC is increasing security and changing visitation policies, Massie said. While that is being done, inmate visits at some of the facilities under lockdown have stopped and inmates have limited use of telephones, according to family members of some inmates.

Those family members also said it’s possible a rift between American Indian and black gangs is the cause of the recent violence. Massie said as long as inmates continue to threaten each other, the lockdown status could remain in place.

“We’re concerned,” Massie said. “We’ve got a different dynamic right now. We have continued threats of retaliation. At some point the lockdown will cease, but you’ve got to make a judgment call on when that will be and what other procedures have to be implemented to lessen the chance of violence.”

Among the increased security measures was the distribution of 96 metal detecting wands to prison guards in recent days, he said.