After a MuskogeeNOW.com story brought statewide attention to the issue, State Rep. Avery Frix and State Sen. Dwayne Pemberton have pushed for the state to investigate claims that Jess Dunn Correctional Facility Chief Romon Jones was favoring gang-related inmates and risking the security of the staff and residents of Muskogee and surrounding areas.
In that initial story, we reported officers complained that Jones “palled around” with inmates, especially those associated with the Bloods street gang. He was also accused of changing officers’ reports to favor inmates, telling officers they were lying when inmates contradicted them, allowing illegal cell phones and drugs to circulate throughout the prison and using inmates to do work for his personal home, among other allegations.
This week, Frix and Pemberton interviewed one of the officers who was making complaints, and they reached out to the Department of Corrections, which informed them that Jones has now been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the matter.
Jones called MuskogeeNOW.com, but first put a female on the phone, who did not identify herself as an employee or friend of Jones. The female first asked for the identities of the people quoted in the story and indicated she might have more to add. When the identities were not given, she handed the phone to Jones, who said he had faced similar allegations at other prisons before, but that he couldn’t comment without talking to his attorney first.
At least a dozen former employees and co-workers of Jones have reached out to MuskogeeNOW since that story ran, repeating the same allegations from either Jess Dunn or the prisons where he has worked before.
“That is the same thing that was going on at LARC several years ago — from 2008 to 2012,” one former coworker said. LARC is Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, a prison in Lexington. “Jones was a lieutenant, but promoted to captain. He was known for the same behavior, but the chiefs at the time turned a blind eye, as did the warden. He was constantly palling around with the Bloods and caused dissension between inmates of other racial groups, as well as the staff. His practices were to give breaks to those Bloods he was in daily contact with and to penalize those outside his group, specifically those of the Aryan Brotherhood.”
Jones denied any affiliation with any gangs, and offered that he was also not guilty of bringing contraband into a prison, an allegation that did not appear in the story.