Oklahoma inmates pitching in to protect medical caregivers during coronavirus crisis


STRINGTOWN, Okla. (KFOR) – Bad decisions may have landed them here, but they aren’t letting it define the rest of their lives.

“We are trying to give them an opportunity to give back in this time of crisis,” said Rocky Cook, Oklahoma Correctional Industries.

These inmates at Mack Alford Correctional Center are using their sentences to serve others.

“It’s kind of cool. I was watching the news and I heard them say they’ll need to make more masks. I wonder If they’ll let us do that.” Jonathan, a Mack Alford inmate said.

Until recently, this factory run by Oklahoma Correctional Industries produced prison uniforms. But the inmates were re-trained to sew sneeze and cough guards for health care workers.

“These are two ply, double layer of material with elastic around the ears. The masks provide a layer of protection to those on the front lines,” Cook said.

Before now, most of these men had little experience with a sewing machine. They are now capable of producing hundreds of face masks each day.

“I think they want about 500 masks each day and a total of 52,000,” said Kyle, an inmate.

Each mask made is potentially another life saved. And just as soon as they are finished, staff members deliver the cloth masks to the courageous folks battling this deadly virus.

“Every place we’ve called has needed masks. We just want to do our part to protect the community and the state as much as we can,” Cook said.

“If it comes to the yard, then some of us will need to wear masks too. I know we are making those for the inmates. If it gets this far, we want to be prepared,” Jonathan said.

Mack Alford is one of four facilities now making these masks for inmates, staff and healthcare providers.

“Everything they are saying on the news, the way it spreads through coughing and sneezing, I think these can cut that down. I’m glad I can give back to the community – it gives me a sense of pride,” Kyle said.

They may have once been a threat to society. Today, they are doing their part to protect us from one.

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