Cushing Correctional Facility begins receiving federal prisoners

Sen. Tom Dugger (far left), Cushing City Commission Chairman B.J. Roberson (center), and Rep. John Talley (far right) pose with representatives from CoreCivic and the U.S. Marshal's service, holding a U.S. Marshal's Service flag that will fly over Cushing Correctional Facility. Provided

Representatives from the City of Cushing, correctional facility operator CoreCivic, the U.S. Marshals Service and state and local government gathered in Cushing Tuesday to celebrate the rededication of Cushing Correctional Facility.

CoreCivic and the City of Cushing have entered into an agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s service to hold federal prisoners awaiting trial, sentencing or transfer to another facility at the prison located approximately three miles southwest of Cushing.

Cushing City Manager Terry Brannon told the News Press CCF began accepting federal prisoners the previous Thursday, as soon as the agreement was signed.

CoreCivic announced in July that CCF, a 1,650 bed medium security prison, would be closing after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections cut contracts with private prisons in response to a $24.4 million budget cut for 2021.

The last state prisoners were transferred to other facilities in early September, Brannon said.

At the time, CoreCivic said it hoped to make CCF available to meet the needs of other government partners. CoreCivic has similar agreements with the U.S. Marshals Service in other locations.

The new deal required the City of Cushing to serve as a pass-through and enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service and CoreCivic.

CoreCivic will bear the burden of meeting obligations.

Brannon said everything seems to have happened at just the right time to help the deal come together.

“It couldn’t have worked out any better,” he said.

The new contract would save almost 200 local jobs, Brannon said when the deal was announced. There were still 199 employees on the payroll at CCF when it was signed.

Brannon had previously expressed concern for CCF employees and their families and for the local businesses that provide goods and services to them and the prison.

The City of Cushing also stood to lose an estimated $1 million per year in utility sales if the prison had been mothballed.

There may be some changes at CCF that won’t be apparent from the outside.

In a 2019 article about the reopening of Eden Detention Center in Eden, Texas, after it entered into a similar contract, a CoreCivic spokesman said the workforce at Eden had already met federal screening standards and would be cross-trained to meet federal detention standards.

Although internal processes might change, Brannon said he doesn’t think residents will notice anything different.

He and Cushing City Attorney Jonathan Huseman held a conference call with the Mayor and City Administrator of Eden, Texas about the city’s relationship with CoreCivic before finalizing the agreement.

Brannon believes making the deal to keep the prison open is a boon for the community.

It’s hard to find jobs locally with the kind of wages, health insurance and other benefits that CoreCivic provides, he said.

Twitter: @mcharlesNP

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