Oklahoma prison protestors demand Gov. Stitt fire ODOC Director

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Wednesday, Oklahoma prison reform protestors put pressure on Governor Kevin Stitt. They are asking him to fire the Department of Corrections director, Steven Harpe, and instead bring in outside resources to help get Oklahoma prisons under control.

“This is his responsibility, too, not just Steven Harpe,” said a protestor.

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to get emotional but when you don’t know from day to day and you worry, it takes a toll on you,” said Sherry Springer, prison reform protestor.

Families who have loved ones behind Oklahoma prison bars are uniting for a change in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC). They are calling on the Governor to step in.

“We’re here to ask the Governor to fire Steven Harpe, the director, because he needs to go. Since he took over, our prisons have gone downhill and they have gotten worse. And we have way more deaths since he’s taken over. And we’ve had enough. And we want answers,” said Emily Barnes, protest organizer and founder of Hooked on Justice (an Oklahoma prison advocacy organization).

“Get somebody in there that knows what they’re doing,” said a prison reform protestor.

Oklahoma Republican Representative Justin Humphrey joined the protestors and noted the high number of deaths, rapes and stabbings in state lockups.

“I’m running out of ability to even keep track of how many cases that we’re talking about because of the mass number of cases,” said Rep. J.J. Humphrey, R-Lane.

Oklahoma family says inmate told them their loved one was stabbed over 30 times, they blame ODOC for lack of information

Earlier this month, two inmates died in a fight at the Lawton Correctional Facility.

Fatal drug overdoses are a problem too. Former Lexington Deputy Warden Tasha Parker was recently arrested for allegedly running a contraband smuggling operation out of her home on state property.

Humphrey says the ODOC needs someone with more experience, education and training to handle Harpe’s position.

“When you hire people who know absolutely nothing, guess what? This is what you get… We’re here to be heard and I think they can hear us… I’m tenacious. I don’t give up… We’re not letting up on this,” said Humphrey.

Protestors went to the Governor’s office on Wednesday hoping to get his attention.

“We’ve had enough, and he needs to do his job as governor and listen to what his people are saying. We are his people. He works for us. I voted for him. I voted for them in there… I have a voice,” said Sonja Dustman, a prison reform protestor.

“You’re supposed to governing the people of Oklahoma. That includes the 22,000 people that are incarcerated,” said a prison reform protestor.

The governor was in a meeting when protestors marched to his office. The receptionist said she would help find a time for them to sit down with Governor Stitt.

News 4 reached out to the Governor’s Office for a response. They, along with the ODOC, declined to comment.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KFOR.com Oklahoma City.