Masks required in Canadian County juvenile detention center

New director wants to mandate for entire children’s justice facility

Canadian County Children's Justice Center Director Melanie Johnson

By Conrad Dudderar

Senior Staff Writer

EL RENO – A contract revision approved this week makes wearing masks mandatory in Canadian County’s juvenile detention center, and the facility’s new director wants to make it a requirement for the entire facility.

Canadian County Commissioners, at their Nov. 23rd weekly meeting, approved modifying the board’s contract with the state Office of Juvenile Affairs.

This action has changed requirements of an existing contract securing juvenile detention services for FY 2021 at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center, 7905 E Hwy 66 in El Reno.

Facemasks are now mandated for anyone in the detention center and group home, CCCJC Director Melanie Johnson told commissioners.

“I have asked for it to be required throughout the whole facility,” said Johnson, who because director in late August.

Canadian County has had a steady increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks. There had been 6,313 cases with 5,057 recoveries and 27 deaths in Canadian County as of Nov. 23, according to state health department data.


Canadian County Commissioners have not enacted a mask mandate for all county buildings. However, they’ve allowed other elected county officials to establish mask policies for staff and visitors in their individual offices.

District 2 County Commissioner David Anderson

“The decision on how to protect the employees and the people who receive the services from the different departments ought to be in the control of the department that’s providing the service,” District 2 County Commissioner David Anderson said.

“To stay with the same pattern of decision-making precedence we have set, I think we allow that.”

Meanwhile, Johnson told commissioners the CCCJC will explore establishing a 24-hour crisis intervention program in the detention center.

Juvenile officials are looking to “expand the possible use of the facility that’s not fully being used,” the director explained.

“We have a meeting set with OJA to discuss it,” she said.

Johnson, who was chosen this summer as the new CCCJC director from nearly 180 applicants, previously was an administrator at a behavioral health hospital and a statewide foster care agency.

In other business at their Nov. 23rd meeting, Canadian County Commissioners:

  • Awarded at bid to Redwood Toxicology to provide drug testing kits for the children’s justice center.
  • Approved advertising for bids for Dodge Charger vehicles for the county sheriff’s office.
  • Received a weekly county jail report showing 195 inmates in custody, an increase of six over last week. The total includes 176 inmates in-house and 19 out-of-county.