Understaffing could factor into riot at CCA facility in Cushing, OK

CCA has confirmed that a riot errupted on Saturday afternoon inside a housing unit at the Cimarron Correctional Facility located in Cushing, OK. Three men died during the incident, while five others were transported to a local hospital. Subsequent reports state that one of those men has also died.

The Cushing facility houses inmates classified as medium and maximum security. The staffing requirments for these housing units are generally set by contract with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, but low-pay and a limited employment pool often results in extremely high turnover rates for front line staff.

A high turnover rate can also lead to staffing units with inexperienced employees, or understaffing a housing unit by using one employee to staff two separate posts.

Understaffing significantly reduces the ability to supervise the population, it reduces response time, and leads to staff utilizing short-cuts that can jeopardize safety.

When combined with inexperienced staff who are prone to mistakes, or simply lack the training to know how to properly operate the housing unit, the environment creates opportunites for inmate-on-inmate violence.

This is not the first riot at the Cushing facility, and CCA has a record of failing to train staff on operational procedures in the housing units at Cimarron.

Whether these factors played a role in this incident will require investigators and attorneys with knoweldge of prison operations and the experience to assess liability.

The attorneys at Bryan & Terrill Law focus on litigating claims against private prison operators like CCA.  If you have questions about prison litigation, particularly against a private prison operator, contact the injury lawyers at Bryan & Terrill at 918-935-2777.