Tulsa halfway house administrator removed from position amid allegations of inmate fights

An administrator was removed from Avalon Correctional Center in Tulsa, which has been implicated in allegations of organized fights between inmates.
By Graham Lee Brewer gbrewer@opubco.com Modified: January 17, 2014 at 3:08 pm •  Published: January 17, 2014

The administrator of a private halfway house the state Corrections Department is shutting down — in part over allegations of organized inmate fights — has been removed from his position and may face suspension or termination.

Donald Coffman runs the Avalon Correctional Center in Tulsa, which was ordered by the department to remove all 212 state offenders currently housed there.

In a letter to the facility's company, Oklahoma-based Avalon Correctional Services Inc, sent earlier this week by Deputy Director Reginald Hines, the state Corrections Department said it had lost confidence in the center's administration amid three ongoing internal affairs investigations.

Department spokesman Jerry Massie confirmed one of those three investigations involves allegations of officer-organized fights between offenders that The Oklahoman first reported on in November.

Brian Costello, president and chief operations officer for Avalon, said while they have found no evidence supporting claims Coffman was not only aware of the fights but in some cases ordered violence, he will be removed for the time being to comply with the investigations into the Tulsa facility.

Costello said any potential action against Coffman would depend on the results of the investigations, with suspension or termination among the range of potential options.

“We haven't even gotten that far yet,” Costello said. “We'll temporarily suspend him or reassign him to our central office until we can determine what the results of the investigation are … we don't believe that he has ever supported, instigated any reports of any fights that we have gotten, that we know about, that we've gotten reports on.”

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