New Canadian County state prison labor contracts OK’d

Costs $135 per month for each assigned inmate worker

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Left: Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart; Right: District 1 Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – New agreements have been signed specifying precisely how many state prisoners are assigned to work for Canadian County government.

Canadian County Commissioners approved addendums to Prisoner Public Works Program contracts with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC).

The program allows lower-level, non-violent prisoners in state DOC custody to perform public works’ duties in Canadian County. Inmate workers are supervised.

Canadian County pays $135 per month for each assigned prisoner.

Several county departments are seeking more help through state DOC agreements.

“Even what we ask for, we don’t get,” County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart noted. “It seems like we end up with one or two less than we request.”

District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader believes COVID-19 health concerns and sentencing changes have reduced how many prisoners can work in Canadian County.

“The pool that’s available is getting smaller,” Hader said.

Revised contracts were approved Sept. 27 for the county administration building (four prisoners), District 2 (five prisoners), District 3 (three prisoners), and the county fairgrounds (four prisoners).

“We’re finally using some in District 3; we hadn’t for years,” said Stewart, the District 3 county commissioner.

A contact addendum was approved at the Sept. 13th meeting for District 1 (four prisoners).

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RADIO GRANT

The Canadian County Sheriff’s Office is seeking a District Attorneys Council (DAC) grant. County commissioners approved the grant application at its weekly meeting.

“This is for four (hand-held) radios and all the equipment that goes with them, for a total of $9,954,” Lt. Mike Grimes said. “We’re limited on those grants to $10,000.”

Stewart, the Canadian County Commission chair, commended the sheriff’s office for obtaining grants to acquire needed items.

“You’re taking advantage of every penny you can take,” he told Grimes.

The veteran sheriff’s lieutenant responded, “We’re just trying to get the most for our money.”

ODDS ‘N ENDS …

In other business at its Sept. 26th meeting, Canadian County Commissioners approved:

  • Setting a Nov. 1st public hearing on a request to reserve the statutory right-of-way on Memorial Road west from Chiles in District 1. This is the first step in a process to place this “lease access” road in “reserve” status.
  • A resolution to apply for Rural Economic Action Plan funds to resurface one mile of 164th Street in District 1.
  • Allow the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office to accept a $100 donation from Dennis Sorensen to be used for the K-9 unit.

Undersheriff Kevin Ward gave the weekly Canadian County Jail report showing 263 inmates in custody, with 226 prisoners at the El Reno detention center and 37 housed in other counties. Some 13 inmates await transfer to state DOC custody.