Safety concerns prompt Oklahoma corrections officials to order removal of inmates from private center

An order from the Oklahoma Corrections Department to remove inmates from a Tulsa facility was made in a letter sent Tuesday to Avalon Corrections Services Inc.
by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: January 15, 2014 at 7:43 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014

The state Corrections Department is demanding an Oklahoma company immediately remove all inmates from a halfway house amid allegations that officers staged fights among offenders.

In a letter Tuesday to Avalon Corrections Services Inc., the department said it is freezing the number of Oklahoma offenders it sends to the company's facilities and allowing 10 days to transfer all 212 individuals in the Avalon Correctional Center, a 390-bed halfway house in Tulsa.

Those offenders will be transferred to various other facilities in the state, possibly including another Avalon center, said Jerry Massie, Corrections Department spokesman.

The move comes in response to three investigations the department is conducting at the center.

Massie confirmed one of the three investigations involves allegations of officer-organized fighting between inmates, which The Oklahoman reported in November.

The facility's administrator, Donnie Coffman, at that time told The Oklahoman he had spoken to his corporate office about a video of the fighting rumored to be circulating, but questioned its existence.

“I'd have to see this video to believe it to be true,” Coffman said.

“What you're asking about is as far fetched at this facility as you can imagine.”

This is the first time the state Corrections Department has called for a private facility to be depopulated over safety concerns, Massie said.

The letter from Reginald Hines, deputy director of the state Corrections Department, states that department officials have lost confidence in the facility's administration.

Massie said he could not comment on whether they are going to ask that administrators be removed from the center, but the letter did stipulate any transfers of staff from the Tulsa facility to their Carver Correctional Center in Oklahoma City must be approved by the department.

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by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch he went on to cover the Oklahoma Senate for eCapitol before joining the...
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