By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – As has become tradition, a Canadian County commissioner this week voiced his annual objection to housing juveniles from other counties in Canadian County’s juvenile detention facility.
The Canadian County Children’s Justice Center (CCCJC), 7905 E Highway 66, is funded through a .35% countywide sales tax approved by Canadian County voters at an election about 25 years ago.
Commissioners, during their weekly meeting July 19, voted 2-1 to approve contracts with 24 other counties to provide “secure detention services” for fiscal year 2022.
District 1 County Commissioner Marc Hader cast the lone dissenting vote – as he does whenever the board is asked to consider these annual agreements with other Oklahoma counties.
“I’ll be voting no on this – I do every year,” Hader said when a motion was made to approve the CCCJC contracts.
“When the people voted to create the juvenile center and provide services, it was very narrow and limited,” he added. “It was to provide services paid for Canadian County citizens to take care of Canadian County juveniles.”
‘HAVE A HEART’
Contracts for secure detention services were approved July 19 for these counties: Beckham, Blaine, Bryan, Caddo, Creek, Custer, Garfield, Grady, Jackson, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Love, Major, Marshall, Payne, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Rogers, Seminole, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, and Woodward.
“I have a heart for all these other counties and their needs,” Commissioner Hader pointed out.
However, Hader said he will continue to oppose these contracts until Canadian County taxpayers agree to a ballot proposition that includes “taking care of other (counties’) kids.”
County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart argued that these contracts benefit Canadian County because other counties are paying to house juveniles at the CCCJC – filling bed space that otherwise would be vacant.
District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson sided with Stewart.
“For Canadian County to participate with the state reimbursement (program), we have to offer our facility as a ‘regional facility’ option for counties that don’t have that,” Anderson explained. “It’s similar to Canadian County keeping inmates in other counties’ jails.
“It’s an economic advantage to the counties who have bed space.”
Commissioner Anderson said his position would be different if CCCJC bed space was full and Canadian County was having to house its juveniles in other county detention facilities.