Is the Tulsa Jail a black hole with systemic health-care deficiencies leading to needless death and suffering, or merely the recent target of lawsuits trying to capitalize on unavoidable deaths and injuries? The Tulsa World says those questions are being hashed out in 14 lawsuits filed on behalf of former jail detainees. Jail officials maintain that the facility is a top-notch jail where deaths may occur, but not due to lack of attention by staff.
Lawsuits pointing to graphic and sometimes horrific examples of death and suffering endured by detainees. A video showing Elliott Williams languishing for hours on the floor of a jail medical unit is exhibit A for abuse and neglect claims. Officials call Williams’ 2011 death an “unfortunate incident” but deny wrongdoing. The jail processes 30,000 people a year and houses 1,800 inmates daily. “Anytime you compare a city in Oklahoma with an 1,800 population, they have an obituary section, they have an undertaker, they have people die,” said a sheriff’s spokesman.