CRESTVIEW— A Facebook post has sparked people’s curiosity about what goes on inside the Okaloosa County Jail. The answer, it seems, depends on whom you talk to.
On May 21, Breanne Tarallo made a post detailing an experience she had while serving a month in the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview.
“While I was in jail, I was taking care of this lady, Lisa Kelly, who has cirrhosis of the liver and cancer,” Tarallo said. “She was in a lot of pain, forgot her name, didn't know where she was and needed my help to eat.
“Her skin was turning yellow and I was begging the [correctional officer] to get her medical attention. She was denied.”
Tarallo said she was Kelly’s bunkmate while in the facility, and although she wasn’t sure what Kelly was charged with, she knew she was supposed to be going to rehab.
“It was commissary night and we were going to make some [food] before going to bed,” Tarallo said. “She was all excited and then, all of a sudden, she said ‘I’m feeling really tired, I’m just going to lie down.’”
A little while later, Tarallo said that she had a hard time waking Kelly up. She was rocking back and forth in her bunk and needed assistance to eat.
“She laid back down in bed, and we kept asking her if she was okay,” Tarallo said. “She wasn’t really responding to us.”
Tarallo said that a correctional officer entered their cell to get information from Kelly, who was having a difficult time understanding her request.
These symptoms continued through the rest of the night.
After pushing a call button to get medical attention for Kelly, Tarallo said the correctional officers told the women to not press the button “unless they are bleeding to death.”
In the following days, Tarallo said correctional officers moved Kelly to a different area of the jail, where they left her in a cell by herself. They eventually took her to the emergency room to get medical attention, she said.
“When she got out of the ER, she felt so much better but she was still in pain,” Tarallo said. “When we asked what was wrong she showed us [a] bruise. She thinks she may have [fallen] but she knows she was neglected…”
The post has attracted more than 750 shares and plenty of conversation.
The Okaloosa County Jail’s staffers have a different perspective on what happened.
“The tough part about it is, inmates a lot of time don’t share accurate information with their bunkees,” Stephan Vaughn, director of the Okaloosa County Jail, said. “With this particular situation, we were made aware of it, and we looked into it, and we’re confident that she’s receiving proper medical care, and has received proper medical care the entire time.
“She has been treated inside and outside of our facility by competent medical authorities.”
Although conspiracy theories circulate about jails trying to hide things, Vaughn said he has nothing to hide and wants to be completely transparent to the public.
As for Kelly’s bruise, Vaughn said it is hard to know what happened.
“A lot of times, things happen in the sections with inmates, and 10 inmates will see it but nobody will tell anybody,” Vaughn said. “A week later, we hear about it through other means.”
Vaughn said the jail’s staff strives diligently every day to make sure that they do the right thing.
“A lot of times, we’re not necessarily given the opportunity to help them,” he said. “Once we became aware of an underlying problem going on … we took immediate steps to remedy it.”
Kelly’s current condition is unable to be shared due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which includes privacy rights, but Vaughn said that she is doing well.
“We spoke with her yesterday, and she’s perfectly fine with the level of medical care she’s getting,” he said.
“[People] see a picture on Facebook and immediately jump to conclusions.”