NORMAN — Female juvenile offenders now housed at a mixed-gender medium-security facility in Tecumseh soon will be transferred to a privately run facility in Norman that is just for girls.
“We are very optimistic about this because it will provide improved treatment for the girls and allows gender specific treatment for the boys in COJC (the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh),” said Keith Wilson, executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.
“It will eliminate the difficulties that exist when you have girls and boys at the same facility. The other benefit this provides is opening more beds at COJC for boys.”
The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs plans to begin processing the female offenders Monday and hopes to have the transfers complete by the end of September, said Paula Christiansen, spokeswoman for the agency.
Privately run Southern Plains Treatment Services will operate the Norman facility under a contract signed in July. An existing facility is being modified to handle juvenile offenders.
The contract requires Southern Plains Treatment Services to have 22 beds reserved for girls, the same number of beds currently reserved for girls at COJC.
The Office of Juvenile Affairs is paying for the transition and first year's expenses out of a revolving fund, she said. The agency expects to approach the Legislature about providing funds for future operations.
Christiansen said she did not have information about the cost of the contract immediately available.
Before entering into the contract, Oklahoma had two medium-security institutions to house its most violent juvenile offenders.
The Office of Juvenile Affairs operates the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Manitou, which is a 78-bed facility just for males, and the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh, a 116-bed facility that has 22 beds reserved for females and 20 beds reserved for male juvenile sex offenders.
Christiansen said girls and boys have been housed in separate wings at COJC and kept apart for classes and activities.
“It was difficult for us — not impossible, but difficult — to get the girls from one place to another and time it out so they are not running into the boys,” she said. “We clearly wanted to keep them separate.”
“This has given us an opportunity to separate them fully,” she said.