Fort Sill Regional Confinement Facility closes
November 12, 2010
FORT SILL, Okla. - The final Fort Sill Base Realignment and Closure action was completed Nov. 9, when the unit guidon of the Regional Correctional Facility was cased during a deactivation ceremony.
The casing symbolically marked the end of 33 years of Fort Sill's confinement mission, which has been transferred to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
About 200 people attended the half-hour ceremony in the prison yard, including leaders from the U.S. Army Corrections Command, Fort Sill and Fort Leavenworth and Soldiers, retired Soldiers, friends and family members.
"This facility has always been a success story in the Army corrections system," said Timothy Callahan, RCF commander. That success was legitimized by the RCF's first American Correctional Association accreditation in 1997, under the command of then-Maj. Bob Pirtle, he said. Since then the RCF has been reaccredited four times.
"The overall success of this facility is a testimony to the fine noncommissioned officers, Soldiers and civilians, who have worked behind the wire," he said.
Col. Mark Inch, Army Corrections Command commander, said the Fort Sill RCF has always been a "go to" facility in Army corrections.
He cited how the RCF was used as a transitional facility to house inmates when the old U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth was replaced with a new facility in 2002, and when the RCF at Fort Lewis, Wash., was renovated in 2008.
The Fort Sill RCF opened in October 1977 as a 10-acre installation detention facility housing prisoners with sentences of less than six months. It originally had men and women inmates until 2000, when it became men only.
The confinement buildings had a telephone pole style layout -- typical of corrections facilities in the 1970s, said Peter Grande, USDB chief of staff.
"You go down a long hallway and you have wings radiating from each side, so it's like a telephone pole," he said.
The Fort Sill facility was modern with its fire suppression system and closed circuit TVs. There were similar correction facilities at Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Dix, N.J. and Fort Bragg, N.C., Grande said.
The detention facility became an RCF in 1989, as a Level II minimum- and medium-custody facility detaining pre-trial prisoners and confining post-trial prisoners with sentences of five years or less. It was expanded to house up to 191 inmates, whose crimes ranged from absent without leave, or AWOL, to manslaughter, Callahan said.
"What (types of criminals) you would see in a state or federal facility, you would also find inside this facility," Callahan said. Because many of the prisoners still maintained their military discipline, the RCF never experiences mass riots or major disturbances, he said.
Though there were no escapes under Callahan's tenure, which began in 1999, former guard, retired Master Sgt. Ken Lucas remembers inmate Charlie Scott from the early 1990s.
He jumped a fence from atop of the mess hall and escaped," Lucas said. "They finally caught him and sent him to Fort Leavenworth."
Lucas and former guard, retired Master Sgt. Doug McCallister were two of the orginal corrections specialists at the RCF in 1977. They were recognized during the ceremony by Inch, who presented them with his coins. McCallister and Lucas still work in the corrections field.
The Midwest JRCF opened June 26 and can house 468 prisoners plus 48 special management inmates, Grande said. JRCF prisoners have sentences of five years or less. Prisoners with sentences of more than five years go to the USDB, the military's "big house," which is adjacent to the JRCF.
About 80 inmates from Fort Sill were transferred to the JRCF beginning in October. The last two prisoners here left Nov. 1. They were in pretrail confinement and taken to a Grady County (Okla.) confinement facility, which has an agreement with the Army, said Col. Raymond Lacey, Garrison commander.
The 76 RCF Soldiers were corrections specialists assigned to the 40th Military Police Detachment. They will be transferred to military corrections facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Fort Leavenworth and Germany; as well as brigade combat teams Armywide, Callahan said.
During the ceremony, Callahan passed the cased guidon to Inch symbolizing the relinquishment of his command. Inch then passed the cased guidon to Command Sgt. Maj. Jay Grady, RCF CSM, who returned it to the guidon bearer. The guidon bearer removed it from the ceremony symbolizing the deactivation of the unit.
So what will happen to the RCF buildings'
The Army Corps of Engineers will study how the facilities can best be used and that will take about one year, Lacey said. There are a number of organizations that are being considered to be housed at the RCF, he said.