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Inmates Transferred from Oklahoma Corrections Facility after "Fight Club" Surfaces

26-Jan-2014

A private correctional facility faces closure after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections removed 212 inmates after complaints about resident safety. Lending credence to those complaints is the release of a video, which shows that corrections officers at a Tulsa arranged fights between inmates as part of a "fight club."

According to an attorney representing one of the inmates, guards at the Avalon Correctional Facility in North Tulsa forced inmates to fight, while the guards bet on the outcome. The inmate who approached the attorney said he broke his hand in a fight, and he provided a cell phone video of one of the arranged brawls.

After learning of the fight clubs at the Tulsa-based halfway house, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections terminated its contract with Avalon Correctional Services and ordered that 212 offenders be removed from the Tulsa facility and sent elsewhere. Some of the affected inmates were sent to other private halfway houses, some were discharged with GPS monitoring, one was released on parole, one was sent to county jail, and another was released to another Avalon-operated halfway house.

According to its website, Avalon Correctional Services, Inc., "owns and operates Halfway Houses that provide reintegration services for non-violent offenders serving the last 6 to 9 months of their sentence." However, "reintegration services" do not typically involve pitting "non-violent offenders" against each other in a fistfight for the entertainment of the guards. Because of this egregious abuse of power, the Oklahoma DOC has terminated its contract with the private corrections service.

Avalon operates several halfway houses and transitional facilities in Oklahoma:

  • The Carver Center, a 556-bed facility housing men and women in Oklahoma City
  • The Carver Center VA facility, which contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs to house non-criminal homeless vets
  • The Turley Residential Center, a 289-bed halfway house for women in Tulsa
  • The Turley House, on the grounds of the Turley Center in Tulsa, which provides a "home-like" setting for women and children
  • The Avalon Correctional Center, a 390-bed halfway house in Tulsa. This is the halfway house involved in the fight club scandal, and the one from which all Oklahoma DOC inmates are being removed.

Avalon also operates several facilities in Texas (El Paso, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth) as well as one in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Reintegration can be an important service for nonviolent offenders as they transition from incarceration to re-entering society. Private halfway houses can facilitate that transition; however, when the officers and employees treat inmates and residents like animals, they defy the purpose of a reintegration facility by dehumanizing those who are trying to make a fresh start and by breeding violence among non-violent offenders.

 



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