Alva Review-Courier -

Carl's Capitol Comments

 

January 29, 2020



I have changed what I wanted to share with you this week because I have a concern on something that could have a major negative impact on our area. As many of you have heard, the governor and the director of the Department of Corrections is considering closing up to five correctional facilities in the state. No specific facilities have been listed, however the older locations are receiving more scrutiny for closure. We currently have three larger correctional facilities in northwest Oklahoma: Keyes Correctional Center in Fort Supply, James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena, and Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva. Fortunately, Bill Johnson is a newer facility and also offers a unique correctional treatment option that is not offered anywhere else in the state. Thus, I believe the risk on Bill Johnson is low.

However, the other two facilities are older facilities and I believe are of great concern: Keyes and James Crabtree. Both of these correctional facilities are great facilities providing great care of the inmates house there. Both correctional centers are well managed and make frugal use of your tax dollars in that the cost to house and feed inmates is much lower than at many of the facilities elsewhere in Oklahoma.

Keyes Correctional Center, a minimum security prison, graduates more inmates with a GED than any other facility where a GED is not mandated for release. This is a well-staffed center that has excellent facilities to house these inmates. Keyes also provides a substance-abuse program to help its inmates get out of the vicious drug-abuse cycle. It also provides, in association with High Plain Career Tech, welding and construction classes so those leaving the facility have a career path to start their new lives.

James Crabtree Correctional Center is a minimum/medium security prison that has a unique inmate population. It houses many of the older inmates who have a number of healthcare needs. High school and some college classes are provided to the inmates to help them to return to society as productive members and to decrease their chances of re-incarceration. Crabtree has built four newer housing units to provide quality facilities. Many of the older facilities are now used for classrooms and other services that are provided. Even these older structures have been well-maintained.

Both of these facilities have sufficient space to expand if needed when consolidation of correctional centers occurs. Northwest Oklahoma has a high quality labor market, and both correctional centers have sufficient staff to meet their current needs and those of the future.

The decision to close a correctional center falls on the director of the Department of Corrections who now serves at the pleasure of the governor. I, therefore, am asking you to reach out to Director Scott Crow, Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating by phone, mail or email asking them to make sure these correctional centers stay open. They have a huge impact on our lives here and provide needed jobs to many of our friends and families in the area. They also are a large economic boost to our area. Please contact these gentlemen and tell them how important these centers are us.

You can contact Gov. Stitt by writing him at 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105, or calling 405-521-2342, or leaving a comment online at https://www.governor.ok.gov/contact-us/leave-comment. You can also fill out the contact form at https://iqconnect.lmhostediq.com/iqextranet/EForm.aspx?__cid=FSL_OKGOV&__fid=100002.

 

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