Why Oklahoma Prisons are Understaffed and Always Hiring

  • Joe Wertz

Jose CABEZAS / AFP/Getty Images

Oklahoma prisons are hiring.

Being a guard is a full-time job — with benefits. And it’s a gig that comes with some measure of job security. So why do public and private prisons have such a hard time filling positions given the current economy?

“It’s a rough life,” James Reed, deputy warden of the R.B. “Dick” Conner Correctional Center in Hominy tells the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma prisons are understaffed, which means current guards often have to work double-shifts to keep the facilities at required security levels. The burden of constant overtime is hard on guards and reduces morale, the World reports.

And prisons are often in remote locations, and the job involves spending a lot of time working around convicted felons in a concrete and steel bunker surrounded by “razor wire and locked corridors,” the paper’s Cary Aspinwall writes.

Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in Oklahoma, traveled to a Tulsa hotel last week to set up a recruiting event to bring in new guards to prisons in Cushing and Holdenville. The recruiter tells the World that CCA has seen an “uptick in interest,” and is interviewing construction and factory workers who’ve lost their jobs.

The World interviewed 25-year-old Katelyn Hawkins, a job fair attendee and new mother who was drawn in by the promise of a steady paycheck and benefits.

“I’d like something I can grow in – but don’t need two to three more years of school to grow,” she said.