Search for New Juvenile Offender Facility Should be More Public

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The western Oklahoma communities of Clinton and Hennessey are currently competing for the chance to house state juvenile offenders, an opportunity that would create hundreds of jobs in this part of the state. Proposals by the two communities are straightforward and available to the public through the state Office of Juvenile Affairs meetings.

An Ada company’s proposal, on the other hand, turns out to be more complicated than what appears in the proposal under consideration at OJA meetings. The company approached Shawnee about helping to finance a new maximum security facility for juvenile offenders as part of their plan, but failed to inform Tecumseh, where the facility would be located.

I believe that the entire process ought to be open to more public scrutiny. Bypassing the city of Tecumseh was plainly discourteous, but I would also argue that the cities of Hennessey and Clinton could have been better informed of what they were up against too.

In the coming weeks, I would urge OJA officials to open up the discussion to the rest of us. Not only would this seem more fair to the communities involved, but it would ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars statewide.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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