Despite a crowd, the Idabel mayor and the Oklahoma governor all asking that he either resign or be removed from office, McCurtain County Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix continued to hold his job Tuesday.
Three members of the five-member McCurtain County Jail Trust voted instead to place Hendrix on paid administrative leave while the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation looks into allegations against him.
Trust member Heather Carter abstained from voting. Voting in favor of the administrative leave were John Williams, who is also chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, plus jail trust members Dick Pogue and Jason Powers, who is also a Valliant police officer.
Chairman of the jail trust, sheriff Kevin Clardy, votes only in the case of tie votes, so he was spared from voting on the matter.
However, it appears that Clardy’s son-in-law, J.C. McMillan, who is currently assistant jail administrator, will be running the jail in the absence of Hendrix.
Idabel Mayor Craig Young asked the jail trust multiple times who would be running the jail, but the board took no comments and quickly adjourned after the vote. Clardy was accompanied by officers as he left through the back door of the building.
Much of the crowd was upset both by the decision to give Hendrix what many saw as a paid vacation and by the sheriff’s son-in-law running the jail.
Special assistant to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Derek Van Voast, called for release of county jail inmates until the situation is resolved. He suggested the sheriff’s department could not be trusted with the cases it had investigated, resulting in many people being behind bars.
“People have asked me, ‘Why Idabel, Oklahoma? Why not Idabel, Oklahoma? An injustice is an injustice. What I’ve seen in this beautiful community, I see diversity, I do. I see love and unity, I do. But I also see disparity.
“The thing that catches my eye the most about this beautiful community is that the leadership don’t seem to match the community.
“They said, ‘Don’t hang that noose on that tree.” I said, “Why?” “They said, “Because they don’t know how to act and they will start violence.”
“I said, ‘the only violence I see is a group of thugs that hide behind a badge called a sheriff. The only thugs I see here are hiding in a building across town.”