The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said by the end of the year the William S. Key Corrections Center will be closed. Officials in the area said this will hurt dozens of families.
ODOC Director Scott Crow issued a statement saying:
“The decision to close a facility is always a difficult one,” Crow said. “However, in order to assure the safety of our staff and inmates and act as proper stewards of the taxpayer funds we are entrusted with, this decision had to be made.”
State Representative Carl Newton said the chief of operations said upgrades would cost about $35 million.
“When you're in rural Oklahoma, when you start at a facility like that you can't just change jobs. You'd have to move, you can't just get another job, so, a lot of loyalty from the employees, it's probably one of the most loyal facilities in the state because they have long term people that just stayed there,” Newton said.
The prison houses around 1,000 inmates and employs about 140 people. Woodward Mayor Steve Bogdahn said this will devastate families in the area.
“It's heartbreaking for me for the fact that those people were in a state job and typically most state jobs are really very stable jobs,” Bogdahn said. “We come off of times when things have been shut down and finally things are starting to pick back up and then all of sudden this happens.”
Bogdahn said this won't just hit families, but also the local economy.
“We're trying to bounce back from things, but it's really tough when you face a large major employer like that that just shuts the door, and turns those people away or have no job,” Bogdhan said.
An employee at the corrections center said they weren’t told about the closure until Tuesday. He said many of the employees have deep roots in northwest Oklahoma and they're feeling tossed to the curb.