Juvenile CenterControversy
In 2006, the E.L. Rader Juvenile Detention Center in Sand Springs came under federal scrutiny for alleged civil rights violations of juveniles incarcerated there. In 2010, the Legislature asked the Office of Juvenile Affairs to accept bids for a new juvenile center to replace Rader. The winning bidder was a group that had hired a private company to run the new center. That company had hired lobbyist Haley Atwood, who was having an affair with state Sen. Harry Coates. Failed bidders allege Coates, Atwood and others rigged the bidding process to favor the company that had hired Atwood.

Oklahoma attorney general calls contract award related to senator-lobbyist affair proper

News | Updated: Fri, Dec 31, 2010 | Comment on this article Leave a comment

The Oklahoma attorney general's office today concluded the state properly awarded a multimillion contract to a group tied to a senator and lobbyist who had an extramarital affair.

Private club dinner, law change are latest in juvenile contract dispute

News | Updated: Thu, Dec 9, 2010 | Comment on this article Leave a comment

Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs leaders dined at a private club with a group vying for a multimillion-dollar state contract while officials worked to change state law so the group could do business here.

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Timeline

• 2006: U.S. Department of Justice files a lawsuit against the state Office of Juvenile Affairs alleging civil rights of juvenile inmates at L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs were being violated because of deplorable conditions and poor management.

• 2008: The Office of Juvenile Affairs

settles lawsuit by agreeing to implement several changes at Rader — the state's only maximum-security juvenile detention center.

• Fall 2009: The Office of Juvenile Affairs board begins seeking proposals for a new juvenile center.

• Winter 2009: Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian says Rader may have to shut down because of budget cuts.

• January 2010: Christian tours a Rite of Passage academy in Colorado.

• Winter 2010: Legislators begin considering asking the Office of Juvenile Affairs to build a new juvenile detention center.

• Spring 2010: Sen. Harry Coates, lobbyist Haley Atwood, Office of Juvenile Affairs board members and some legislators tour a Rite of Passage juvenile offender academy in Colorado..

• Spring 2010: Atwood corresponds frequently with Office of Juvenile Affairs officials about Rite of Passage.

• April 15, 2010: Christian and his chief of staff eat dinner at a private club in downtown Oklahoma City with officials from Rite of Passage and Ada.

• April 16, 2010: Officials from Ada and Rite of Passage, along with other bidders, make their juvenile center proposals to Office of Juvenile Affairs board of directors.

• May 27, 2010: Legislature passes bills requiring the Office of Juvenile Affairs to seek requests for proposals for a new juvenile center.

• May 28, 2010: Gov. Brad Henry signs bill requesting proposals for new juvenile center; Christian and Coates meet in Coates' office.

• June 4-7: Christian tours Rite of Passage academy in Colorado.

• June 3, 2010: Henry signs bill allowing Office of Juvenile affairs to send juvenile inmates to charter schools.

• June 4-7, 2010: Christian tours Rite of Passage academy in Colorado.

• June 7, 2010: The Office of Juvenile Affairs issues request for proposals for new juvenile center.

• Aug. 1, 2010: The Department of Central Services begins evaluating five proposals for a new juvenile center.

• Aug. 16, 2010: Contract award decision expected but is not made.

• Sept. 17, 2010: Vendors that submitted proposals for new juvenile center tell the Office of Juvenile Affairs board members they are frustrated no decision has been made.

• Nov. 23, 2010: Christian announces intent to award contract for new juvenile center to Ada Youth Academy Authority, which had retained Rite of Passage to operate the center; contract also calls for expansion of an existing juvenile center in Tecumseh to make it suitable for maximum-security juvenile inmates.

• Dec. 1, 2010: The Oklahoman reveals Coates and Atwood were having an extramarital affair while helping steer the $10 million-a-year juvenile center contract to the Ada group and Rite of Passage; failed bidders allege the bidding was rigged to favor the Ada group and Rite of Passage.

• Dec. 3, 2010: Juvenile center contract signing called off amid a Senate investigation into the bidding process.

• Dec. 6, 2010: Attorney general's office begins reviewing bidding process.

The Players

E.L Rader Center The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in 2006 against the state Office of Juvenile Affairs over the conditions at Rader, the state's only maximum security juvenile detention center. Rader is expected to close soon, creating the need for a replacement.
Office of Juvenile Affairs The agency oversees juvenile detention centers and programs. The director is Gene Christian, who has been a key player in the agency's effort to find a replacement for Rader.
Sen. Harry Coates R-Seminole A roofing company owner, Coates, 60, has served in the Legislature since 2002. In late Novemeber, it was revealed he has been having an extramarital affair with lobbyist Haley Atwood. He and Atwood worked together to steer the contract for the new juvenile center toward a company that had hired Atwood for consulting.
Haley Atwood A registered lobbyist, Atwood, 29, has been romantically linked to Sen. Harry Coates. Atwood had been doing work this year for two companies involved in the new juvenile center project.
Rite of Passage A Nevada-based company, Rite of Passage operates juvenile academies that seek to treat juvenile offenders to prepare them to reintegrate into society. The Ada group selected Rite of Passage to run a juvenile center there. Rite of Passage earlier this year hired Atwood for consulting work and hosted Coates, Christian and several legislators at one of its campuses in Colorado while discussions were underway about building a new juvenile center in Oklahoma.
Architects in Partnership The Norman-based architectural firm will design design the new $27 million juvenile center in Ada. Architect Ben Graves said he asked Sen. Harry Coates asked Coates, his longtime friend, to get involved in the project. Graves claims that Coates has been so instrumental in the process that the Ada campus should be named after him.
City of Ada The city of Ada plans to sell bonds to bulid the new juvenile detention center to be operated by Rite of Passage.
City of Clinton The city made a failed bid for the new juvenile center and city officials now claim the contract award process was unethical.
Oklahoma Public Employees Association The state employee group claims the process used to award the juvenile center contract was manipulated so it favored a private company. The group asked Attorney General Drew Edmondson to investigate, but he declined.