This is one reason why he plans to begin closing cottages at Rader. By July, Christian hopes to have only about half as many juveniles at Rader than are there now. That will mean fewer staff will be needed, which will save the agency money but also should provide a chance to keep a better eye on staff and the young inmates, and potentially reduce the number of incidents such as sexual assault.
Rader has a long history of violence, which shouldn’t come as a shock considering the violent records of those housed there. In early 2007, a Tulsa World review of three years’ worth of OJA records showed the number of assaults and violent attacks at Rader had more than doubled. Many involved staff members allegedly assaulting juveniles. A 2006 federal lawsuit alleged that youth at Rader weren’t adequately protected from other juveniles or staff. Changes were implemented, and in 2008 federal monitors said conditions had improved. Further improvements have been made.
Now more are planned, driven in part by a painful state budget crunch.
"We’re taking to heart the Legislature’s recommendation to make changes,” Christian said. "OJA will not look the same in five years as it looks today.” With any luck, neither will statistics regarding violence done to and by juveniles in state custody.