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Jail whistleblower: Dangers to taxpayers and to inmates

By March 5, 2024March 8th, 2024No Comments

A McCurtain County Jail whistleblower has come forward in hopes that things will change at the county jail.

For critics thinking jail administrators and/or jailers participate in beatings or other violence at the jail, no, the whistleblower has never seen such a thing.

But that aside, what the person has seen, if true, could pose great liability to county taxpayers – and pose both health and physical dangers to inmates.

The whistleblower decided to come forward to the newspaper after a recent story on a surprise jail inspection and jail administrator Larry Hendrix’ reaction to that inspection.

The person said Hendrix is aware of all the shortcomings in the jail inspection, despite his contention otherwise at a jail trust meeting.

“They know about conditions at the jail, the filthiness, and they know about inmates sleeping on the floor.”

The person said the drunk tank has a capacity of three inmates, but there are often four to five inmates there, with the latecomers having nowhere to sleep but the floor.

The intercoms in the cells have not worked in a long time, and this poses a dangerous situation, especially at night, if an inmate should have a health emergency or be assaulted, etc. and have no way to quickly tell anyone.

The failure of toilets to work is a chronic problem, and sometimes inmates are even locked down in cells that have no working plumbing.

The overall condition in the jail is often filthy, but a cleanup occurs before jail trust members show up for inspections. The jail administration seems to know in advance every time jail trust members come to inspect, the whistleblower said.

Black inmates and white inmates are not treated the same, either by jailers or the administration. For example, when black inmates are locked down, medications are sometimes cut off to them, and this is not the case with white inmates.

The whistleblower gave the names of some specific inmates with whom this happened. The newspaper has so far been unsuccessful in reaching them for comment.

The person said in other ways, black inmates are often “treated like garbage.” The whistleblower is white.

Some of the jailers are related to assistant administrator J.C. McMillan, who is the sheriff’s ex-son-in-law (and they lived together for a time).

Mice are a chronic problem at the jail. It doesn’t help that some inmates feed them, but neither does the administration aggressively try to deal with the issue, often just handing out “sticky traps” to jailers.

Among the lies being told to jail trust members, the person said, is a very big one:

Until last week for the first time, jail trust members and county commissioners – even a female commissioner – were required to pass through a body scanner if they wanted to enter the jail, while jailers are not required to pass through it.

It is indeed recommended that jailers go through the body scanner, but it is not required or enforced by administrators.

Jail policy is that jailers must pass through it, even when going to lunch and coming back, but that doesn’t happen.

It’s also a huge incentive to jailers to do a “side gig” of bringing contraband into the jail and selling it as an additional source of income.

The jail has indeed had problems with contraband getting into the jail in the past, with charges being filed against former jailers.

Among the lies regularly told, the whistleblower said: Fire drills. There aren’t any. They are required to be conducted monthly, but they are never conducted, and assistant administrator McMillan – himself a volunteer fireman – regularly signs the paperwork saying they have been conducted.

Another lie told, the whistleblower said: When a man hanged himself in a jail cell, administrators claimed there were cameras in the holding and drunk tank, but cameras were not, in fact, installed until a few days after it happened.

What’s more, the man had attempted suicide in Cell J 10 which is why he was brought to the front. He should have been placed in isolation on suicide watch, but was instead placed in a holding cell, the whistleblower said.

An incident such as this, and the subsequent lies told about it, could result in huge liability for taxpayers.

The whistleblower has seen how vindictive these officials can be, both to inmates in their custody and to others who question or criticize them, therefore the need for anonymity.