Two inmates dead, others injured after ‘operational error’ led to gang-related disturbance at Oklahoma prison

Two inmates are dead and several others are injured after a “group disturbance” at a privately run prison in southern Oklahoma, according to prison authorities.

The incident took place at Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility on Friday and is being investigated by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, according to a statement from Kay Thompson, the department’s chief of public relations.

Thompson said in an email to CNN on Saturday the incident took place after an “operational error” allowed “the disturbance to happen.” She said the disturbance was related to “security threat groups,” which Thompson said was another term for gangs.

As a result, the facility is locked down and all visitations are canceled through the weekend.

A spokesperson for The GEO Group, a security company that operates prisons and detention facilities under contract with governments, told CNN the deaths and injuries resulted from “an inmate-on-inmate assault.”

Thompson did not name the two patients who died in the statement. In addition to the two deaths, two inmates were seriously injured. One was taken to the hospital by med flight and the other by vehicle. Many others were treated at the facility with minor injuries, but the exact number is unknown, according to Thompson. One officer also sustained minor injuries, according to The GEO Group.

When asked what “operational error” referred to, Thompson told CNN, “It is still under investigation as to the cause. We will release that information once the investigation is closed.”

“Although LCRF is a privately-run prison, our Operations team is working closely with the GEO Group to understand how this occurred and what corrective actions need to be taken,” Thompson said.

The GEO Group said, “the health and safety of all those in our care has always been our number one priority, and we have zero tolerance for any acts of violence.”

Lawton is located about 86 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. The Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility facility has operated since 1998, according to The GEO Group, and has capacity for 2,682 inmates.

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