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California murderer, rapist were housed at Midwest City nursing home, report shows

A convicted murderer, rapist and two other California felons badly injured at an October 2011 prison riot in Sayre were housed at a Midwest City nursing home for weeks following their release from hospitals in western Oklahoma.
by Andrew Knittle Published: December 23, 2012

The prison, located in the small western Oklahoma town of Sayre, is owned and staffed by Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest private prison companies in the world.

Mike Machak, spokesman for the prison company, confirmed the inmates were from North Fork and that they were sent to Buena Vista to recover from injuries they suffered during an Oct. 11, 2011, riot at the sprawling facility.

The riot, described by local law enforcement as the worst in the prison's history, left 46 prisoners injured. Sixteen of those were hurt badly enough to be taken to nearby hospitals.

Three prisoners were in critical condition, prison officials said shortly after the riot.

Machak said the decision to place the inmates at the nursing home was recommended to the prison company.

The inmates, who aren't named, all had severe head injuries and a variety of other ailments, the report shows.

“After consultation with (the) hospital and other medical professionals, it was determined that the most appropriate treatment for the injured inmates was a skilled nursing facility,” said Machak, who noted that “at least two highly trained officers” guarded the inmates at all times.

“At no time were the patients, staff or public at risk.”

Yet, according to the Health Department's report and findings, the 120-plus residents of Buena Vista were in “immediate jeopardy” for the 28 days the inmates lived at the home.

“This is not what nursing homes are for,” Huser said. “And that's the reason the fine was so high. Those residents were in immediate jeopardy while those inmates were there.”

“What are those old people supposed to do if somebody comes through that door with a gun?”

Machak would not say whether Corrections Corporation of America has ever used nursing homes to house badly injured inmates in the past under similar circumstances.

Attempts to get comments for this story from Buena Vista administrators were not successful.

The nursing home was fined a total of $347,450 for violations uncovered during the inspection in March.

Such fines are handed down by Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency that works with states to provide oversight of the Medicare program and parts of the Medicaid program covered by federal dollars.

The fine has been paid, but the case has been appealed and is still waiting for a final determination.

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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