Oklahoma correctional facilities enhance safety measures to stop COVID-19 spread
OKLAHOMA CITY – As part of its continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has ordered all Oklahoma prisons to secure inmates in their cells while allowing access to necessary services. This modification to the agency’s action plan is based on protecting the health of inmates and staff, not for disciplinary reasons.
This aggressive but necessary action began Sunday evening. ODOC officials will evaluate this modified plan daily to consider affording as many normal privileges as possible while maintaining safety and security. Facility staff will deliver food, medicine, and any other necessities to inmates to limit group gatherings and enhance social distancing. Staff will devise schedules for activities including making phone calls and showering.
This step is one of many taken by the department to protect staff and inmates - the agency’s highest priority.
The Agency’s Actions to Address the Threat of COVID-19
March 13, 2020, ODOC begins aggressive actions to safeguard inmates and staff from the virus by suspending all visitation and volunteer access to facilities. To help ease the strain on inmates and their families, the agency and its contracted telecommunications company offers inmates up to 10 minutes of free phone calls each week.
March 18, 2020, ODOC activates its pandemic plan and begins revisions to specifically address the coronavirus.
March 18, 2020, ODOC suspends inmate intakes from county jails and interstate compacts. The agency also institutes 14-day quarantines for any inmate moved for court appearances or medical appointments deemed necessary by the agency’s chief medical officer.
March 19, 2020, facility staff begins undergoing health screening when reporting to work.
March 20, 2020, the agency identifies more than 600 employees for telework, allowing the agency to maintain essential services during this state of emergency while limiting group gatherings inside offices.
March 27, 2020, all inmates begin receiving free bars of anti-bacterial soap as encouragement to frequently hand-washing.
March 30, 2020, more than 300 more staff begin telework status to limit exposure to co-workers.
April 1, 2020, inmates working through Oklahoma Correctional Industries begin sewing cloth masks and manufacturing hand sanitizer for use inside prisons by staff and inmates.
April 4, 2020, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, under the direction of Governor Kevin Stitt, provides protective masks for all inmates and staff members. ODOC staff disperses those masks to all facilities that day.
April 5, 2020, the agency secures all inmates inside their cells to limit movement within facilities.
ODOC’s Pandemic Plan as well as resources and links to reliable information are available at doc.ok.gov. The public can call the DOC COVID-19 Update telephone line - 405-425-2556 - for updated pandemic-related information. They can also contact the Community Outreach Unit for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-425-2607.
Updates are also available on ODOC social media.