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3 Oklahoma County Jail inmates have died in the past week

The Oklahoma County Detention Center in west downtown Oklahoma City, Okla.
Ryan LaCroix / KOSU
The Oklahoma County Detention Center in west downtown Oklahoma City, Okla.

Three of the Oklahoma County Jail's inmates have died in a span of four days.

On Friday morning, 37-year-old Courtenay Doyle was found unresponsive in her cell, and died about an hour later after being transferred to the hospital. She had been in the detention center since March on drug trafficking and possession of paraphernalia charges.

On Saturday evening, 37-year-old Frank Ramirez was found in distress in his cell. Like Doyle, Ramirez died about an hour after being found in his cell and being transferred to the hospital. He had been in the detention center since August 2021 on multiple charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery.

Early Monday morning, 40-year-old Amber Owens died after authorities say she was already at the hospital being monitored when she fell and died from her injuries. She was scheduled to be released on a medical own recognizance bond once deemed medically fit for transport. She had been in the detention center since March on multiple charges including assault and battery upon a medical provider.

The Oklahoma County Detention Center is one of the deadliest jails in the country. 14 people died at the jail in 2021. 16 died in 2022. Six have died so far this year.

The jail has been managed by the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority — commonly known as the jail trust — since July 2020.

A grand jury report released in March called for the trust to be dissolved and the management of the jail to be returned to the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office.

The report blamed "inadequate staffing, funding, surveillance and training, coupled with poor law enforcement protocols" for the string of deaths, and blamed jail administrator Greg Williams for not taking steps to address those problems.

Specifically, grand jurors pointed to a "horrific" "predominance of opioids" in the jail, as well as poor health screening in the booking process and failure to check on inmates regularly. The report also revealed that members of organized criminal gangs have been hired as detention officers due to poor background checks. The gang members helped smuggle drugs into the jail.

Williams resigned from his position in December. Less than two weeks later, the trust's chairman Jim Couch also resigned.

Last summer, Oklahoma County voters approved a $260 million bond package to build a new jail. The current jail has seen repeated health and safety violations in recent years.

Hannah France is a reporter and producer for KGOU.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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