September 26, 2013

County jail fight sends one to hospital

September 26, 2013 Staff Writer Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — Emergency responders were called to Mayes County Jail at 7:36 p.m. Friday.

An inmate, Billy Stipes, was transported by Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority ambulance to the hospital in Pryor with injuries sustained from a fight, according to Mayes County Jail Administrator Mitch Goodman.

According to Detective Rod Howell of the Mayes County Sheriff's Office, the investigation is still in the preliminary stages, but criminal charges are anticipated.

According to Howell, it appears at this time that five male inmates were involved.

An anonymous source said Stipes was “jumped” by several other inmates who proceeded to beat him until the jail staff arrived to break up the fight.

Stipes' injuries were described as non-life threatening.

The event happened in pod D, one of four pods in the Mayes County Jail. At any given time, each cell has the capacity to hold up to five inmates.

“At this point in the investigation we know roughly how many individuals were involved, but cannot say whether they were cell mates or if they were simply there because the cell doors were open at that time,” said Howell.

At times, cell doors are open and inmates are out in the pods. The video surveillance system does not capture the inside of the cells.

According to Howell, the jail staff “followed the correct policy and procedures and responded quickly.”

Per jail policy, there are from three to five jail staff members working at any given time. The Mayes County Jail houses roughly 142 inmates.

“Today (Tuesday) we have 139 but after arraignments at 1:30 the number generally changes,” said Howell. “It's a constantly fluctuating number.”

Goodman said that Stipes was given a medical release from jail Saturday.

The anonymous source speculated Stipes suffered from schizophrenia, but because of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations, neither Howell nor Goodman can confirm or deny.

“The investigation is still unfolding. We have turned information over to the district attorney's office and so long as we are able to meet the burden of proof, criminal charges will be filed,” said Howell.

As of now the jail remains on lockdown, meaning inmates are in their cell 23 hours and out one hour for physical activity.

Howell said the lockdown is for the inmates’ safety, until the investigation is complete.

“People get upset that inmates are on lockdown, but we assure them it is for inmate safety, it's not about punishment,” said Howell. “Our job is to confine them while keeping them safe. We work to 'accommodate' these individuals the best we can, but people do have to remember it's a jail not a bed and breakfast.”

Howell said the jail staff acted in accordance with jail standards set by the state of Oklahoma.

“We are being prudent and finding out everything we can,” said Howell, who admitted it is difficult to obtain information in this sort of case as very few individuals want to talk.

“We believe our staff did everything they are taught to do, they handled it very well. But we use everything as a learning experience. Our response can always get better when we learn from our experiences,” said Howell.

Howell did say the number of fights that occur in the Mayes County Jail is typical for a jail its size. He said the jail follows recreation and nutritional standards set by the state but that individuals in a confined setting can be provoked by minute things.

“I have not seen an increase but it is tough to get info. It's not like it is outside jail walls, often even the victim does not like to come forward,” said Howell.

 

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