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Staffing shortages, violence plague Oklahoma prisons

A photo taken at the Davis Correctional Facility on September 23, 2022. Photo courtesy of Mason Avery on September 26, 2022.
Mason Avery
A photo taken at the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville on September 23, 2022.

With one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, Oklahoma has struggled for decades to properly staff its prisons.

A private prison in rural east-central Oklahoma where a correctional officer was fatally stabbed by an inmate this summer is no exception.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville has been plagued with staffing shortages and prison violence.

In addition to the killing of 61-year-old guard Alan Hershberger, three inmates have also been killed at the prison so far this year.

A 2021 audit of the prison shows it was operating at about 70% of its contractually obligated staffing level.