© 2024 KGOU
Oklahoma sunset
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Long Story Short: Inmate's death raises questions concerning private prison staff oversight

Oklahoma Watch, Feb. 28, 2024

Oklahoma prisoner advocate Emily Shelton awoke to her phone buzzing about 7 a.m. on Oct. 26.

Using state-issued tablets, prisoners told Shelton that a man on their unit had been beaten to death overnight with no staff intervention. Word spread on social media that morning and concerned family members began calling the facility urging them to investigate.

At approximately 10:20 a.m., several hours after inmates started messaging Shelton, prison personnel found Raymond Bailey dead at the bottom of a trash can, covered with empty milk cartons. A state medical examiner’s report indicates that a group of prisoners hogtied and gagged Bailey and proceeded to stab and beat him to death. The medical examiner, who found no evidence of intervention to save Bailey’s life, ruled the death a homicide.

Bailey, who was 44, was serving a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder out of Oklahoma County. He would have been eligible for parole in 2039.

Shelton, who runs the prisoner advocacy group Hooked on Justice, said a routine overnight cell check would have revealed that Bailey was missing from his cell and prompted an investigation. Improved oversight and surveillance could have prompted officials to respond and intervene in the assault, she said.

“During the nighttime, when the warden isn’t there, things aren’t being done properly,” Shelton said. “There’s no excuse why they did not find that body until 10:30 in the morning.”

The Department of Corrections requires facilities to conduct a minimum of five inmate counts throughout the day, including at least one overnight count, spokesperson Kay Thompson said. She said prisoners are required to raise their hand or otherwise indicate that they’re conscious during the count.

A spokesman for the GEO Group, the Florida-based private corrections company that the state pays to operate the facility, referred questions about the incident to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Thompson confirmed three prison staff members were terminated as part of an ongoing internal investigation into the murder, but said the agency cannot release more information about the firings until the investigation is complete. She said the Comanche County District Attorney’s Office has taken over a criminal investigation into Bailey’s death from the Department of Corrections with formal charges expected by March.

* Full story available at oklahomawatch.org

Heard on KGOU
Support public radio: accessible, informative, enlightening. Give now.