The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office responds to violations cited by the Oklahoma Department of Health 

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office is disputing cited violations from the state Department of Health over inmate treatment at the Oklahoma County jail.

An inspection in July, spurred by an inmate complaint, led to the notice.

On Oct. 27, the Oklahoma County Commissioners approved the Sheriff's Office plan of action, which will be sent to the Health Department.

The violation notice, issued in September, states policy violated involved prisoner medical triage screening " both physical and mental " prior to the prisoner being placed in a cell, and "this standard was not met because inmate has a bone infection in his right leg and was being treated with antibiotics."

A second violation states the jail violated health standards requiring a posted jailer to monitor activity and respond immediately to calls for assistance.

"This standard was not met because inmate was without a wheelchair for a period of time," the notice states.

Mark Meyers, public information officer with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, said it was not clear what incident the health inspector was referring to, and that jail officials narrowed the violation down to an inmate admitted after allegedly fleeing from officers on a motorcycle before crashing into a road sign. Due to injuries from the crash, Meyers said, the suspect's leg was amputated and his other leg was badly damaged. The inmate was taken to OU Medical Center for treatment and surgery and later taken to the jail, where he continued to receive treatment.

Meyers said the inmate was also restricted to bed rest by doctors after being sent to the jail.

After an incident in which the inmate allegedly tried to injure himself, a guard was posted around-the-clock to monitor the prisoner, Meyers said.

John Judge, manager of the Health Department's jail inspections, confirmed that the inspection focused on treatment of the inmate with his leg amputated after a motorcycle wreck.

In its plan of action, the Sheriff's Department cites policy regarding prisoner medical treatment, states that the inmate was properly cared for, includes a timeline and listing of his medical treatment since the inspection and states that the inmate always had wheelchair access.

The response also states that the inmate had a constant line of communication through an intercom system and was assigned a guard to keep continuous visual contact with the prisoner.

"We can't figure out why we were cited in the first place," Meyers said. "We totally dispute everything written by the Health Department citing the jail."

When the inmate was admitted, Judge said jailers would not let him keep his wheelchair, forcing him to share a wheelchair with other inmates. The reason given by the jail, Judge said, was possible contraband smuggling.

Judge said the concern was that an infection could result from sharing a wheelchair and the inmate's wheelchair could have been thoroughly searched when he was admitted.

"Their response, I think, was kind of ludicrous," Judge said. "They could have searched the wheelchair. I couldn't see where they had a case not to have it in there."

Judge said he personally called the jail and asked why the inmate could not have his wheelchair; the jail eventually allowed the inmate to bring in the chair.

It was also discovered that an infection developed in the prisoner's remaining leg, Judge said.

photo A sheriff's deputy checks an Oklahoma County jail cell. Photo/Mark Hancock

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