“We came up a little short against a well-coached and strong Oklahoma State team,” said Head Coach Billy Pate. “With them being the host of the NCAA final site this spring, they have a tough schedule and are battle tested with experienced players. We pushed hard midway through the singles and had our chances. Unfortunately, and this started with doubles, we simply lost a number of pivotal sudden death points. Those mistakes really had us playing from behind but I’m proud of the fight. Paul had a great win against one of the best players in the country – despite not converting on a match point in the 2nd set. We’ll take these lessons into the ECAC this weekend at Penn and will be ready to battle again on Friday.”
Inchauspe outlasted No. 21 Tyler Zink in an epic three-set battle, 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 at the No. 1 position. Other winners for the Tigers included Ellis Short at No. 5 who took down Alessio Basile 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 and Aleksandar Mitric, who overcame Francisco Pini at No. 6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Oklahoma State 4, Princeton 3
Order of finish: (1, 2)
- Alex Garcia/Tyler Zink (OSU) def. Paul Inchauspe/Landon Ardila (PRIN) 6-1
- Isaac Becroft/Alessio Basile (OSU) def. Sebastian Sec/Ellis Short (PRIN) 6-3
- Goran Zgola/Leighton Allen (OSU) def. Alan Kam/Evan Wen (PRIN) 4-4, UF
Order of finish: (2, 3, 5, 4, 6, 1)
- No. 69 Paul Inchauspe (PRIN) def. No. 21 Tyler Zink (OSU) 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4
- No. 32 Alex Garcia (OSU) def. Fnu Nidunjianzan (PRIN) 6-4, 6-2
- Isaac Becroft (OSU) def. Sebastian Sec (PRIN) 7-6 (7-0), 6-2
- Erik Schiessl (OSU) def. Landon Ardila (PRIN) 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
- Ellis Short (PRIN) def. Alessio Basile (OSU) 7-6 (7-5), 7-5
- Aleksandar Mitric (PRIN) def. Francisco Pini (OSU) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
The Tigers begin competition at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships on Feb. 16 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
What does gender expansive mean? Oklahoma teen’s death puts gender identity in spotlight.
White House: ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill expansion ‘devastating’ to Florida
The “Don’t Say Gay” law originally focused on limiting talk of gender and sexuality among younger children, has now been expanded through 12th grade.
Patrick Colson-Price, USA TODAY
The death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict in the wake of a fight at an Owasso, Oklahoma, high school has drawn widespread attention after reports that the teen was long bullied for their gender identity, which friends have described as “gender expansive.”
But what does gender expansive mean? According to national LGBTQ+ advocacy group PFLAG, it’s an umbrella term for individuals who don’t align with traditional gender categories, or who expand ideas of gender expression or identity.
“It might be used because someone has identities outside of what’s socially accepted,” said Mackenzie Harte, PFLAG’s manager of learning and inclusion, adding that the term is one they’ve increasingly heard used by parents and educators regarding to youth. “It’s where someone is not conforming to social ideas of what gender should be.”
The term has been around since at least 2012, when LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign surveyed more than 10,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth across the United States. The term “gender-expansive” emerged from the report to classify youth who didn’t identify with traditional gender roles but were otherwise not confined to one gender narrative or experience.
“This term allows us to talk about youth who don’t meet our ‘traditional’ understandings of gender without putting their identity in a box,” the report read.
Gender expansive is not synonymous with nonbinary, PFLAG notes; even cisgender individuals can embrace the term. Instead, it’s another way of saying gender non-conforming — the more preferred term, according to the group.
“While some parents and allies use the term, gender non-conforming (GNC) is the preferred term by the LGBTQ+ community,” the group says as part of a glossary definition on PFLAG’s website. “It is important to use the term preferred by an individual with whom you are interacting.”
What happened to Nex Benedict?
Nex, a 16-year-old who loved reading, art, and playing Minecraft, was hurt during a fight that erupted in an Owasso High School bathroom on Feb. 7.
That afternoon, officers responded to a local hospital, where Sue Benedict, Nex’s mother, reported the assault and urged police to follow up with school administrators. Nex was later discharged, but the following day Benedict called 911 to report that Nex was having medical issues, including shallow breathing.
According to police, she said Nex had hit their head on the bathroom floor during the altercation. Emergency crews performed CPR before Nex was taken to a Tulsa hospital and pronounced dead.
Police said on Wednesday that an autopsy determined Nex did not die as a result of trauma. But medical examiners have yet to disclose their complete findings.
Oklahoma youth long endured bullying
Family members have said that Nex used the pronouns they/them, and interviews indicate friends believe Nex was still exploring their gender identity at the time of their death.
Executive director Nicole McAfee of Freedom Oklahoma, a group advocating to make the state safer for people of all genders and sexualities, said friends of Nex described them as gender expansive, using they/them pronouns with some people and he/him pronouns with those closest to him.
While it remains unclear whether the altercation involved Nex’s gender identity, the friends said other students had bullied Nex for their gender identity “for well over a year,” McAfee said.
More young adults identifying as nonbinary or transgender
Results of a Pew Research Center survey released in June 2022 showed a record high 5% of young adults identify as transgender or nonbinary. About 1.5% of the U.S. adult population identifies as such, the survey found, and more Americans report knowing someone who is transgender compared to five years ago.
LGBTQ+ advocates attribute the rise to more accurate media representation, the growing visibility of transgender and nonbinary people on social media platforms and the internet, and a broadening of terminology and social acceptance offering previously unavailable avenues for self-expression.
The survey also found growing awareness of terms such as nonbinary and gender fluid, especially among young adults. Both terms refer to individuals who don’t identify as strictly male or female.
The survey was devised by Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., as part of efforts to better understand the experiences of transgender and nonbinary individuals in a political and social climate that has put gender identity in the spotlight — particularly among Republican candidates looking to sway voters as the 2024 election approaches.
Do ‘culture war’ talks cause discomfort? Study says teachers and students are wary about discussing gender identity
‘Please do not judge us as Nex was judged’
Jordan Korphage, the school district’s director of communications, has not responded to inquiries about whether the school had gotten prior bullying reports involving Nex or whether the school had any support groups for students of various gender and sexual identities.
But relatives confirmed this week that the family plans to conduct an independent investigation, pleading with officials to “hold those responsible to account and to ensure it never happens again.”
On the GoFundMe page she launched to raise money for funeral expenses, Sue Benedict expressed gratitude for an outpouring of financial and emotional support and apologized for not using Nex’s chosen name in her original post.
“As parents, we were still learning the correct forms,” Benedict wrote. “Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject. Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them. I lost my child, the headstone will have the correct name of their choice.”
Contributing: Christopher Cann, USA TODAY; Molly Young, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State softball live score updates vs Washington
Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Gajewski previews 2024 season
Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Gajewski previews Cowgirls’ 2024 season
Coach Kenny Gajewski and the seventh-ranked Oklahoma State softball team faces the fourth-ranked Washington Huskies (8-1) on Thursday in Tampa, Florida.
The Cowgirls (8-2) will face USF at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Here’s what you need to know:
More: Big 12 softball power rankings: Houston rising up behind top tier of OU, Texas & OSU
Oklahoma State softball live score updates vs. Washington
More: Big 12 softball preseason power rankings: Oklahoma No. 1 but who will challenge Sooners?
OSU softball highlights vs. Washington
More: Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Gajewski feels excitement, uncertainty entering season
What time does OSU softball vs. Washington start?
- Date: Thursday, Feb. 22
- Time: 12:30 p.m. CT
- Where: Tampa, Fla.
More: Get to know the 2024 Oklahoma State Cowgirls softball team and schedule
How to listen to Oklahoma State softball vs. Washington
Thursday’s game is only available on internet radio.
‘Tears and fears.’ Inmate killings, violence continue to plague Oklahoma’s corrections system
Editor’s Note: This is the first story in an occasional series that examines problems with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, its management and its facilities.
The last time anyone saw Raymond Bailey alive was several hours before he was found dead in a garbage bin, covered by a plastic bag with four small milk cartons tossed on top.
Bailey was brutally attacked and killed last October at the Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility.
Officials from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections haven’t spoken much about Bailey’s death. And though they did refer the incident to the Comanche County district attorney’s office for investigation, today, nearly four months after his death, little is known about exactly how Bailey was killed or why.
Records show that Bailey was stabbed sometime before the morning of Oct. 26, but corrections officials don’t know when, according to documents obtained by The Oklahoman. An autopsy report, released by the state medical examiner’s office, said Bailey was stabbed and slashed at varying depths many times on his head, neck and upper torso.
Kay Thompson, Corrections Department chief of media relations, said the investigation into Bailey’s death wouldn’t be ready until after March 7. She said the Comanche County district attorney’s office has taken over a criminal investigation into Bailey’s death from the department.
More: Lawton inmate was denied medical care for four days before he died, lawsuit says
Thompson said Corrections Department officials believe Bailey died between 5 and 6 a.m. The department and the private owner, The Geo Group Inc., conducted an “After Action Review” with seven committee members between the two entities. In its initial review, multiple corrections and company policies were violated during the early morning hours of Oct. 26, including not properly conducting counts.
She added the department monitors staffing levels at the Lawton correctional facility and said they are within the contractually set amounts. Thompson said department’s Office of the Inspector General immediately launched an administrative investigation and a criminal investigation, assisted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. That investigation is still underway.
According to the autopsy, Bailey had a wound over his left ear and enough stab injuries to the neck to cause a broken cricoid cartilage, the only structure that completes a full circle around a person’s airway. Bailey’s hands were bound, and he was gagged. His ankles were tied together with a pair of his pants that had been hemmed into shorts and had pockets sewn into them.
At Lawton, Bailey was serving a combined 60-year sentence for second-degree murder, carrying a firearm after a previous felony conviction and possession of a controlled substance.
Bailey was one of at least four inmates who were killed in 2023 while in Corrections Department custody. Records show that over the past several years, the number of inmate killings at state prisons has dramatically increased.
Inmate deaths on the rise in state prisons
Records obtained through the Open Records Act indicate that 12 inmates in Corrections Department custody were killed during the three-year period 2021-2023, four each year. That’s a jump from the single homicides recorded in 2019 and 2020.
However, 147 other inmate deaths over the five-year period are still under investigation, and some may ultimately be determined to be homicides. Over the same period, 357 inmate deaths were investigated and listed as natural causes, accidents and suicides.
All 516 deaths were contained in a report from the District Attorneys Council, which is sent to the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
The inmate deaths come at the same time the Corrections Department is facing intense criticism about inmate punishment and unsafe conditions for both inmates and department staff at state facilities.
According to a Bureau of Justice Assistance report, during the period 2001-2019, Oklahoma had the second-highest average annual homicide rate in the nation’s state prisons — 14 per 100,000. Homicides were 4% of all inmate deaths during that time in Oklahoma.
Other reports obtained by The Oklahoman detailed the stabbing of a guard, inmate violence, no heat, water rationing and other incidents Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy.
At the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton, 17 inmates were kept in shower stalls for days at a time without water, bathroom breaks and mattress pads, incident reports from August 2023 show.
Corrections Department officials told media members the inmates were placed in the shower stalls due to overwhelmed or refused housing.
Nightmarish problems at the Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility
The Lawton Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility is owned and run by The GEO Group Inc., headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. The Oklahoma Corrections Department has been considering the possibility of the state taking over the facility, Thompson told the Southwest Ledger in January.
Lawton is the last remaining private prison facility in Oklahoma, though the state leases the Great Plains Correctional Center from The GEO Group.
State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, chairs the House of Representatives’ Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee. For several months, Humphrey raised concerns about the management of Corrections Department, its leadership and whether or not staff and inmates were safe. This year Humphrey said he wanted an outside investigation of the system. He invited three former employees to the committee on Feb. 14 to share their experiences.
Luke Pettigrew told the committee he had worked in the department two separate times since he was 21 years old, on every level of security and in seven different facilities throughout his career, spending the last four years as a warden at Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington. He said there was once a waiting list to work at the department when he first started, and enough staff to attend training and not feel guilty about calling in sick.
More: Lawmaker calls for ‘independent investigation’ of Oklahoma Department of Corrections
“I love my job. I’ve given my life. I moved my family time and time and time again to help better myself, plus spread my knowledge of prison life, you could say,” Pettigrew said. When he returned in 2018, he said it was a big surprise to him that staff levels were low and the situation was dangerous inside the prisons.
“I’m here because I care for the department,” he said.
Pettigrew said it wasn’t uncommon for him and others to be called in two or three times a week to fill staff shortages. He said the shortages and a lack of training contributed to increased violence and contraband coming into the prison.
“What we’re faced with today, it’s just scary,” Pettigrew said.
He added that staff used to work eight-hour shifts and were able to go home to their families, but the correctional officers who work 60 to 70 hours a week now don’t have a family life.
No way to feed the inmates
Julie Thompson, a nationally registered and licensed dietician in Oklahoma and Kansas, worked at the department for 10 years, after working her way up from food service manager to compliance manager and then food service operations administrator. She told Humphrey’s committee that she left the department after seeing multiple issues at the Great Plains Correctional Center when it opened in spring 2023.
Before the facility opened, Thompson told the committee she was called into a brief meeting, and asked what it would take to open a new kitchen. She told them it would take a lot of planning to put the necessary processes in place. However, she said she received a phone call to report to Oklahoma City at 8 a.m. and was told she had two weeks to open the new kitchen for 2,000 inmates.
Thompson said she, her supervisor and several members of her auditing and compliance team scrubbed that kitchen top to bottom. The first question she asked was if the facility had a food service license from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Prison management said they didn’t know but believed The Geo Group Inc.’s food license covered them. It would not. Thompson said she got the fastest temporary license ever in three days.
More: Oklahoma needs $25 billion to fix crumbling infrastructure. But the focus is on tax cuts
Thompson said the kitchen barely had enough pots and pans to prepare three meals a day for 2,000 inmates. Thompson said the facility had no vendors set up, no food, no staff and no trash service.
“My team and I were told to perform a miracle,” she told the committee. “I went home that Friday in tears. I drove home to Kansas in absolute tears and fear.”
Statistically, prison riots often start in food service and medical areas, Thompson told the committee. She said if she and her team got it wrong, there was a huge potential for violence. The number of inmates that she would be responsible for feeding every day changed dramatically when the facility opened. The original numbers went up by 20%.
“It was very poor planning, and in fact, sometimes it felt like there was absolutely no planning, no processes in place whatsoever,” she said.
Thompson said Corrections Department Director Steven Harpe visited the facility on June 2, a month after it opened. The kitchen still didn’t have staff members, so Thompson and her team ran it, working 60-plus hours a week. Thompson worked 76 hours a week once, even though she wasn’t eligible for overtime, only comp time.
Harpe shook her hand and asked how it was going. Thompson said, “Sir, you do not want my answer.” He said he did. She pulled him into her office for a private conversation with her supervisor. Thompson told him that she was terrified every day of losing her job, along with her supervisor. It was the culture that scared her the most, because if something went wrong, someone had to be blamed. Despite the violence, the bigger stressor was losing her job.
Acting on Harpe’s request, Thompson told the committee she scheduled a meeting with him, but that meeting was canceled three days later by an email from Harpe’s secretary, which said, “I giveth and I taketh away :-(. Director just let me know that his Thursday plans have changed due to an unavoidable conflict. We aren’t sure what day he will make it to Hinton but we will continue to keep you updated once we know. I did advise him of your offer to drive to headquarters but he doesn’t want you to be inconvenienced in any way.”
More: Oklahoma County commissioners choose Grand Boulevard land as jail’s new home
On July 4, Thompson told the committee she arrived at midnight to work in the kitchen. Unit administrators are not normally in the kitchen running a shift, but because they were so shorthanded, she was usually there running shifts daily and even running meals to inmates in other pods and other units, she said.
That was the final straw for Thompson.
“I could no longer ask my staff members, the people I was told to protect, people that are my family, I could not protect them from what was going on and no one was listening,” she said.
Thompson said she submitted her letter of resignation on the same day, writing that she realized the department “exploits and abuses grit and perseverance.” She told the committee the department did offer for her to take as much time off as she needed, or to work from her main office, but they would not extend the same options to her team, so she said no.
Thompson tried two more times to reschedule the meeting after she sent her resignation letter. At one point, the response was, “Good morning, Julie. At this time Director Harpe is choosing to not schedule a meeting. Thank you for following up,” she said.
Thompson said she lost her comp time when she refused to renew and approve the master menu for the next year. If an issue arose with the menu, she wouldn’t be there to address it. It had last been approved July 29, 2022, a year ago, she said.
In a later interview with The Oklahoman, she reinforced her testimony to the legislative committee: “They (the inmates) are a human being. No matter what they did, no matter what their past is, they are still a human being, and it was not my job to sentence them,” she said. “My job was to make sure that they got the meals they deserved.”
Staff shortages putting employees at risk
Jason Lemons told the committee he started his career in 2003. He was Officer of the Year two times, received a Medal of Valor, was named Supervisor of the Year and worked his way up to chief of security at Vinita and then at Dick Conner facility in Hominy in 2023. He fell short of his 25-year career goal by two years when he left because of staff shortages and increasing violence and turning down a deputy warden position.
Lemons told the committee he disagreed the Corrections Department’s contention that the inmate to security staffing ratio at Dick Conner was 15 to 1, which he said would mean there were 83 officers working. He said when he was chief of security, there were about 1,250 inmates, and he would run the prison with 12 to 14 officers for the whole shift. He calculated he would need 26 to run the prison properly. Many times, critical posts like towers and yard officers were unable to be manned due to the shortage.
Lemons said inmate on staff incidents at Dick Conner have increased, as well, resulting in officers being stabbed or assaulted. He encouraged an investigation into the numbers, staff shortages and increase in violence. He said officers call him daily and weekly about how dangerous the prisons are becoming.
After a particular incident, Lemons told The Oklahoman, a corrective action is issued telling prison leadership how to fix the problem, such as making sure areas have security staff and installing more cameras. However, he said often there was not enough staff available to carry out the required actions. When an incident happens again, blame comes back to the wardens and deputy wardens, Lemons said.
Lack of staff leads to increased violence
Lemons told the committee the Corrections Department has faced criticism in the past and said he was not sure why state officials did not seem to care about the issues. He said employees were at risk, but so were inmates, most of whom, he said, were just trying to do their time and serve their sentence.
“Most of the inmates want to be protected,” he said. “A lot of these inmates are just scared to death.”
While former employees are speaking out or filing lawsuits, current employees are still working in dangerous conditions, Lemons told the committee, adding that he encouraged them to keep speaking out and bringing issues to light.
“It seems like before people listen to prison issues, it seems like there has to be a full-blown riot or something major to happen before everybody starts listening to that,” Lemons said.
Humphrey said he wants to subpoena records to verify information, and the department has not previously responded to his requests. Pettigrew said he was told to refer Humphrey’s office to department headquarters and not give him any information.
Humphrey said the department is losing all its experienced staff. Still, for employees such as Lemons and Julie Thompson, the problems at the department are overwhelming. Lemons told the committee that he’s afraid of the future.
“I don’t know if it’s because it’s a prison and nobody really cares … but we’re getting to a point now to where something serious, you mark my words, we’re going to have a major riot or there’s going to be some officers getting killed,” he said. “In 22 years … I’ve never seen anything like the shape that the Department of Corrections is in right now.”
Watch Western Illinois Leathernecks vs. Morehead State Eagles: TV channel, live stream info, start time
Emissions, mishaps from Northwest Indiana BP refinery draw ire of residents and activists
Indiana downs Iowa, UNC beats NC State in a pair of top-10 Thursday night upsets
Americold to establish new facility, investing $127m and creating 187 new jobs
Kentucky rallies past Mississippi State for first road win
See it: Tesla crashes into Columbus convention center at 70 mph
Colorado Rockies game no. 116 thread: Zac Gallen vs José Ureña
Fox News Politics: Georgia the whole day through
Death of missing Oregon girl found in stream ruled homicide
At least 2 dead as tornadoes hit Alabama, damage homes across Southeast
Special attorney hired by Fani Willis to help prosecute Trump donated big bucks to her campaign
US, European powers back outgoing Dutch PM Mark Rutte as next NATO head
Ex-FBI source accused of lying about Bidens and having Russian contacts is returned to US custody
A 30-year-old North Carolina education funding argument is back in the state Supreme Court
Zelenskyy asks Brussels to defuse Polish farmer dispute
World1 week ago
Borrell slams US for deploring Gaza deaths while giving arms to Israel
World1 week ago
Photos: One killed in shooting at Kansas City Super Bowl victory parade
World1 week ago
Do not undermine NATO's credibility: Stoltenberg rebukes Donald Trump
News1 week ago
Video: Crowds Flee Scene of Shooting Near Kansas City Super Bowl Parade
Politics1 week ago
Trump endorses new RNC chair, announces daughter-in-law's run for vice chair
Politics1 week ago
Democrats win seat, Republicans win impeachment, two presidents clash over NATO
News1 week ago
1 killed at Chiefs parade shooting; Russia is developing a space-based nuclear device
World1 week ago
Iran simulates strike on Israeli base as it showcases naval force