Department of Corrections freezes contract with Tulsa halfway house Avalon Correctional Center

TULSA - A Tulsa halfway house is shutting down after its contract with the Department of Corrections was frozen.

Residents of Avalon Correctional Center, located in downtown Tulsa, are expected to be removed from the facility by Jan. 24.

DOC Deputy Director Reginald Hines cited three active investigations into problems with offender count, security and possession of contraband at the house as reasons that led to the shutdown.

"The violations are so serious that the department will begin depopulating Avalon Tulsa immediately without notice," said Hines in a letter to Brian Costello, Avalon president.

Hines says the DOC has lost confidence in Avalon's administration.

While the shutdown involves only the Tulsa facility, Hines says the DOC has concerns about the Oklahoma City facility and will limit the resident count.

Upon completion of the investigation, Hines says the DOC will provide Avalon with information to further contract with the agency.

It isn't immediately clear where the halfway house's residents are being transferred.

Avalon Correctional Services, Inc. owns and operates halfway houses in Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.  According to the company's website , Avalon Correctional Center is a 390-bed halfway house located in downtown Tulsa.  A separate facility, the Turley Residential Center, is a 289-bed female halfway house.

Costello tells 2NEWS the DOC's "action is totally unprecedented and unwarranted ... based on preliminary information from an investigation of an incident occurring months ago," adding Avalon staff have not had the opportunity to review or respond to information resulting from the investigation.

"We do not deny that there have been isolated incidents at our Tulsa facility that required corrective action," said Costello in a statement emailed to our newsroom.  "Incidents occur daily at every correctional facility, public or private."

Costello says Avalon's contract with the DOC includes provisions for such incidents and sets in place procedures in the event of a breach, but he says those procedures were not followed in this case.

"Instead they have taken this unprecedented action, which will result in close to 100 offenders losing their jobs as they attempt to reintegrate into society as well as 40 employees being put out of work at the facility," said Costello, who says the move will also likely result in the permanent closure of the halfway house.

Read Costello's complete statement here .

2NEWS anchor Steven Romo is following this story.  Stay with us for updates.

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