Oklahoma County jail administrator Greg Williams expected to resign after troubled tenure

The administrator of the Oklahoma County jail is expected to resign, ending a troubled tenure marked by more than 35 inmate deaths, a hostage situation and failed heath inspections.

Greg Williams, 62, may step down as early as Monday, four weeks after surviving a call for him to be fired.

The trust that runs the jail may vote Monday on the "possible acceptance of the possible resignation of Greg Williams," according to an agenda posted Thursday.

Five of the nine trustees testified Nov. 9 before the state multicounty grand jury that has been looking into issues involving the jail.

More:Oklahoma County jail fails another health inspection with 24 repeat deficiencies cited


A special prosecutor advising the grand jury plans to attend the trust meeting Monday.

Williams was named jail administrator in November 2019, months before the trust took over operations of the aging 13-story facility west of downtown Oklahoma City.

He came from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, where he worked for 36 years and finished as the deputy chief of operations.

“Since the day I took this job, I have been focused on improving conditions and operations at the Oklahoma County Jail," Williams said in October. “While much work remains to be done, and some problems are not solvable in our current building, I will continue to work hard every day to make our facility as safe as it can be for our staff and our detainees.”

Oklahoma County jail administrator Greg Williams speaks during a 2021 news conference after an inmate was killed during a hostage situation. Williams may step down.
Oklahoma County jail administrator Greg Williams speaks during a 2021 news conference after an inmate was killed during a hostage situation. Williams may step down.

The trust took over on July 1, 2020, promising conditions there would improve.

Overcrowding has eased, but the trust has faced many of the same problems sheriffs have dealt with since the jail opened in 1991. It also has faced new ones brought on by the pandemic and the fentanyl crisis.

Williams struggled to find and keep detention officers and many times did not have enough to properly supervise the inmates.

A number of detention officers have been fired or quit after mistreating inmates, neglecting their duties or bringing in contraband. Some have faced criminal charges.

More:Death toll rises at troubled Oklahoma County jail

Williams regularly faced criticism over high-profile incidents at the jail, particularly the hostage situation last year.

That incident ended when an Oklahoma City police officer shot an inmate who was holding a makeshift knife to a detention officer's throat. The inmate died.

The Oklahoma County jail in Oklahoma City is shown on May 11.
The Oklahoma County jail in Oklahoma City is shown on May 11.

Twice under Williams' watch, an inmate was beaten to death by another inmate. In July, a handcuffed inmate awaiting her release was raped by an unsupervised male inmate who had just been booked into the jail.

Williams also has faced criticism over remarks he made in a private conversation a year ago.

"COVID is our friend," he said while discussing improvements to the jail paid for by federal pandemic funds.

The private conversation was recorded because Williams had not hung up after leaving a voicemail.

So far this year, 15 jail inmates have died. The latest was on Nov. 19.

The last unannounced health inspection came in October. The Oklahoma Health Department again found dozens of violations including a failure to check inmates on suicide watch every 15 minutes.

A new trustee, the Rev. Derrick Scobey, called at the Nov. 7 trust meeting for Williams to be fired. The trust did not take action on his motion.

"We are clearly among the worst — if not the worst — jail in the United States of America," Scobey said at that meeting. "I beg you not to allow your pride to prevent you from doing what you know deep in your heart is the right thing to do."

On Facebook Nov. 18, Scobey posted about the possible resignation.

"I’ll close with this," he wrote. "When Greg Williams 'resigns' please keep in mind that it was after last week’s convening of the Grand Jury. Deductive reasoning tells you all that you need to know. I don’t care how 'THEY' try and spin it."

On Thursday, Scobey said, "I wish nothing but the best for Greg Williams."

Supporters of Williams said he did a lot, coming into a bad situation in the middle of the pandemic.

Williams told The Oklahoman in August that what his staff did in the first year was almost miracle work.

"There were businesses all over this state and all over this city that were crumbling and failing just because of the COVID," he said. "We were tasked with: build the jail, get it fixed, get all the employees up, develop all these new systems, train everybody.

"That's one thing about the jail that's hard for some people to really grasp is it’s 365 days, 24 hours a day. It never slows down. So there's constantly people coming and people going, from day one. So you don't get a chance of saying, 'Let's just close down for a week. Let's just close down for a couple of days and get our bearings together. Let's just stop and let's build some training systems and let's build some policies and procedures.'"

Staff writers Josh Dulaney and Dale Denwalt contributed to this story.

More:Investigative panel resumes look at troubled Oklahoma County jail

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma County jail administrator Greg Williams expected to resign