Okla. prison 'fully staffed' for the first time in years

Oklahoma Department of Corrections decreased its number of needed correctional officers overall by 12 percent since July

By Parker Perry
McAlester News-Capital

MCALESTER, Okla. — The Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester is fully-staffed with correctional officers for the first time in years and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections decreased its number of needed correctional officers overall by 12 percent since July.

JBCC is a minimum security prison on West Street next to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. DOC officials said it is the only prison in the state that is 100 percent staffed at the moment.

“It’s a huge relief on all the staff,” JBCC Warden Jerry Chrisman said. “Having the staffing available, staff are able to take off when (they need to). They were not able to do that before.”

Chrisman took over the reigns at JBCC earlier this year. He is originally from the Stuart area and said he is glad to be back home.

“I started my career in 1989 at OSP as a correctional officer,” Chrisman said.

The warden said having a full staff “gives us a lot more eyes to look” for the introduction of contraband in the prison and to work with offenders to help them with reintegration for life after prison.

“We offer a substance abuse programs, GED and education programs,” Chrisman said.

He said offenders can even take classes to receive college credit.

The DOC has had a hard time keeping correctional officers. District 17 state Sen. Larry Boggs, R-Red Oak, was recently sitting on the public safety committee in the senate and said he has heard multiple occasions where correctional officers have quit due to working conditions. DOC Director Robert Patton said in a statement it appears JBCC is not facing that problem.

“I appreciate Warden Chrisman’s effort to creating a motivational atmosphere and a place where people want to lace up their boots and come to work every day,” Patton said.

Chrisman said staffing is one of the biggest issues facing prisons and corrections today. So JBCC being fully-staffed is an accomplishment.

He said one way JBCC has successfully filled all of its positions is through an aggressive campaign led by the Human Resources Department of the prison.

“Our HR people are beating the bushes telling everyone we are looking for good people,” Chrisman said. “We have been real successful with it. We wouldn’t be at 100 percent if it wasn’t for our HR staff. “

Chrisman said he has even gotten in on the act.

“I am not above handing out business cards in our community,” he said. The DOC said in a press release it is hiring and encourages job-seekers in McAlester to call Linda Jefferson at 918 302-4628. Applicants can also apply online at the DOC website.

“Starting pay for officers is $2,214.43 per month with two salary increases within the first 18 months of employment,” a press release states. “Included with their employment, officers receive full health insurance for their families.”

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