I have been recently meeting with local and state officials to address the issues that have arisen in connection to the Office of Juvenile Affairs. An increased interest in the agency grew out of the high-profile escape of three juveniles from the Tecumseh facility early this month.
Many constituents have shared their concern for the safety of the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center facility in Tecumseh and their desire for better management of the entire OJA system. I also have constituents who are employed at the facility.
I have met with Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele to express my concerns over the necessity of better accountability from the OJA board and better management at the state level. He has asked me to help lead the effort from a legislative standpoint.
It is unacceptable that we find ourselves in a position where juveniles have been moved from a high-security facility into a facility with lower security capabilities. It is unacceptable that the safety and well-being of our citizens is threatened. The Oklahoma Legislature needs to take the lead on this issue.
I have had many employees and former workers at several juvenile facilities express concerns over their safety every day. I want to make sure they are adequately protected and are appreciated for the work they do. Currently, they have hardly any assurance of bodily protection if a situation arises. I believe that’s wrong. These men and women play a vital role in our state.
I believe the first step is proper leadership, both at the local level at each facility and at the state level through tough legislation that provides this core function of state government in funding and resources. On the local side, I am pleased with the selection of Jerry Fry as the superintendent of the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center facility. I have had the pleasure of working and conversing with Jerry before and have complete confidence that he is the man for the job. He has a tough road ahead of him, but I look forward to working together.
I am committed to working with legislators, state officials and people across my district and the state to find solutions. Anyone with ideas, questions or concerns, please contact my office at (405) 557-7349 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.