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Fact Check

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ODOC could release inmates from prison to keep them safe from COVID-19.
Fact: The law does not allow ODOC to release inmates prior to serving their sentence.

ODOC transferred inmates they knew to be positive to other facilities where those inmates were housed with non-positive inmates.
Fact: ODOC has had different transfer policies but has never housed a known positive inmate with other non-positive inmates.

ODOC has started price-gouging inmates for medicine.
Fact: ODOC inmates pay a one-time $4 co-pay per medical issue. ODOC is not charging co-pays for any medical services related to COVID-19. No inmate is ever denied health care because they cannot afford it.
Fact: Some medicine can be purchased from the canteen. When a price increases, it is due to an increase in the cost ODOC pays its vendor. Per contract, ODOC’s vendor can increase the price of products once a year in April.  
For example, canteens today sell Rejuvilife Acetaminophen (off-brand of Tylenol) in a 24 tablet bottle for $0.97. That same bottle sold for $0.94 this time last year. Canteens sell a 4 oz bottle of Goodsense Tussin Cough Formula for $1.96. In March, that same bottle sold for $1.95

ODOC is running out of medicine.
Fact: ODOC keeps an appropriate supply of all medications needed to care for our inmate population’s medical needs.

ODOC staff are forced to use their annual leave to take time off for COVID-19-related matters.
Fact: ODOC provides staff a variety of leave options, including Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), leave sharing, sick leave, and annual leave. ODOC provides an explanation of each on the agency’s website under COVID-19 Employee Resources.

I heard inmates are not being given appropriate amounts of water.
Fact: ODOC provides all inmates with access to water to ensure proper health and hydration.

ODOC will not let family members know the status of their loved ones’ health conditions or even whether they are COVID-19 positive.

Fact: Federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) law prohibits ODOC from sharing an inmate’s personal health information unless ODOC has a valid waiver listing the requestor as authorized to receive the information. ODOC recently provided all inmates a new HIPAA release form, updating with whom staff can share personal health information.

Inmates are not allowed to contact families, and they do not have enough time to use the phones.
Fact: While the scheduled time inmates have available to make calls has been disrupted by the pandemic, all inmates, whether in the general population, in quarantine, or in isolation, have access to inmate phones. In fact, for months now ODOC and its phone vendor have provided all inmates several limited free phone calls each week. ODOC is working to increase the amount of phone time available for inmates while maintaining safety and pandemic/COVID-19 protocol compliance.

The governor should declare a state of emergency at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center.
Fact: While more than 700 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 at EWCC in September, nearly all of those cases presented asymptomatically – as reported by the medical professionals providing daily checks on them. Currently, all inmates who tested positive have recovered. For the most up-to-date testing results, you can visit ODOC’s website and click the Daily COVID-19 Testing Results link.

Medical care for inmates isn't free.
Fact: ODOC charges a $4 co-pay to all inmates for their medical treatments regardless of the cost of the treatment itself.  This requirement is to teach inmates responsibility. However, if an inmate cannot afford the co-pay, ODOC still provides the treatment. ODOC will never deny an inmate medical care because they cannot afford the co-pay.

I heard ODOC’s website report of testing results is inconsistent and not up-to-date.
Fact: The ODOC COVID-19 Testing Results page is updated every weekday with that day’s data. Recently, ODOC reviewed the report and made significant changes, including tracking current and cumulative staff positives as well as inmate and staff deaths potentially related to COVID-19.

Inmates aren’t getting full meals anymore.
Fact: All ODOC inmates are served three meals daily. These meals are planned out on a master menu. The menu is approved by a dietician who confirms the meals meet the inmates’ caloric and nutritional needs.

Inmates at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (EWCC) aren’t being fed, or they aren’t getting fed until nine o’clock at night.
Fact: EWCC staff have worked diligently to provide inmates all of their meals every day during the pandemic. One particular day, when all of the inmates assigned to help in the kitchen were unexpectedly quarantined, lunch was served two hours late, and at the same time as dinner.

EWCC has housed more than 500 women in the gymnasium.
Fact: The truth is that EWCC had more than 500 women quarantined at the same time, but only 31 women were ever quarantined in the gymnasium together. The fire marshal has rated the gym capacity at over 300.

EWCC allowed COVID-19 positive inmates back into the population after only two or three days.
Fact: EWCC medical staff, working closely with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, are responsible for returning inmates to the population after the virus has run its course. Inmates exposed or possibly exposed to the virus remain quarantined for weeks, until meeting CDC guidelines as recovered.

EWCC did not allow COVID-19 positive inmates access to showers, medical care, outside recreation time, food, prescription drugs, or bathrooms.
Fact: All inmates, regardless of whether in general population, quarantined, or isolated are provided all of their core services daily. This means every inmate has access to showers, food, medical treatment, prescription drugs, phones, washrooms, and laundry.

EWCC placed COVID-19 positive inmates in buildings without air conditioning.
Fact: Not all buildings are air conditioned in ODOC prisons. To ensure the safety of our inmates, staff take temperature readings of each housing unit multiple times daily. These readings are logged and confirmed. Additionally, the gymnasium at EWCC, while not air conditioned, has windows that open to allow proper ventilation and large fans that move the air throughout the building. Inmates are also supplied ice and water to help remain comfortable during hot weather.

In August, EWCC inmates were moved from their bunks in the middle of the night.
Fact: This is true. As soon as ODOC staff were made aware of the presence of positive COVID-19 tests among current inmates, they took action and began the quarantine process. Unfortunately, this required waking up sleeping inmates and moving them from their current bunks. While this was inconvenient, it was necessary and done to protect inmates’ safety.

ODOC is intermingling COVID-19 negative and positive inmates.
Fact: Part of the reality of COVID-19 having a two week incubation period and displaying asymptomatically is that many people carry the disease unknowingly and undetectably for extended periods of time. As soon as ODOC confirms an inmate is COVID-19 positive, staff quarantines that inmate, completes contact tracing, and identifies and quarantines potentially exposed inmates. If staff receive other positive results, the newly discovered positive inmates are isolated from the quarantined group. That group then re-starts its quarantine timeframe.

Inmates are dying of COVID-19 in prison.
Fact: Unfortunately, several inmates with COVID-19 have died. ODOC is prioritizing COVID-19 medical requests to ensure all pandemic needs of the inmates are addressed as quickly as possible. If an inmate has medical needs beyond the capabilities of their particular facility, as determined by medical staff, they are sent to a hospital to ensure their needs are addressed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the COVID-19 Testing Results page on ODOC’s website. Inmate deaths are considered possibly COVID-19 related until the medical examiner establishes the cause of death.

 Updated October 8, 2020 at 1:49 p.m.