Makes recommendations to governor
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, on Thursday, Aug. 17, submitted to the governor a review of a House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee Hearing held July 24, 2023. Three additional members of the committee signed on to the report as well: Reps. David Hardin, RStilwell, vice chair of the committee; Kevin West, R-Moore; and Danny Williams, R-Seminole.
The committee examined evidence from Oklahoma Department of Correction’s former employee Dr. Whitney Louis who was fired after reporting what she said was the department’s failure to properly investigate numerous allegations of inmates’ rapes.
“The committee interviewed numerous witnesses and was provided with an abundance of supporting evidence, which, to me, unequivocally substantiates this whistleblower’s claims,” Humphrey said. “We held this hearing to establish if the Department of Corrections intentionally is suppressing rape investigations and to determine if the department violated the state Whistleblower Act.”
Humphrey also shared with the governor several recommendations based upon evidence submitted to the committee.
One is to introduce legislation that clearly defines the Whistleblower Act and equally defines punishment for administrators who intentionally violate the act.
Another would be to introduce legislation to establish appropriate actions for agencies, such as DOC, that willfully ignore government oversight.
Humphrey also would like to see an independent investigation into DIC to determine the overall safety of employees and inmates.
Beyond rape allegations, he would like to examine areas such as adequate staffing levels; other safety and health violations; equipment malfunctions, including doors and locks; acts of violence on staff and inmates; existence of drugs; and hostile working conditions. He also wants the department to immediately rehire Dr. Louis and issue her back pay.
In addition to testimony by Dr. Louis, the committee heard from attorney Matt Frisby who shared a court’s ruling showing Dr. Louis had been wrongfully terminated, and members were supplied an affidavit from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) verifying she did appropriately file a whistleblower’s claim.
The committee also heard from Jimmy Harmon, chief of the criminal division for Attorney General Gentner Drummond. DOC General Counsel Kari Hawkins appeared as a witness but refused to discuss this case or answer any questions. DOC also failed to provide as a witness Oklahoma Inspector General Agent James Hunter, the primary investigator in the rape allegations.
“Refusal to provide this witness makes it appear as if the department is attempting to suppress the truth,” Humphrey said. “This hearing leads me to believe that DOC employees and inmates have no voice in critical safety issues and it suggests a willful violation of the Whistleblower Act has occurred. There is also sufficient evidence to warrant reconsideration of the rape investigations.”