OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An old Oklahoma prison is getting a second chance as a new cadet training academy.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the former Kate Bernard Correctional Center has received extensive remodeling and is now equipped to host dozens of cadets.
“We have a new philosophy at DOC – we change lives,” Chief Administrator of Training Anthony Johnston said. “One of the first things we told [the cadets] was, ‘You are the tip of the spear. We have a new attitude, a new mission here at DOC, and you’re the first group with this new mission in mind.’”
Officials say the former prison used to house hundreds of female offenders hoping to give them a second chance, and now the building is getting a second chance of its own.
Previously, regional academies were held costing the department money and resources. ODOC says centralizing the academy allows for better training for future officers.
“We instill discipline obviously,” Johnston said. “But we want to also instill respect. If they respect themselves and coworkers, that will naturally spill over to the inmates.”
According to ODOC, the paramilitary academy aims for more classroom instruction and physical fitness training.
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The building is also equipped with amenities like a kitchen, fitness room as well as male and female residences for cadets to stay on-site during their time at the academy.
“We want every cadet who passes through here to be a force multiplier,” Johnston said. “If another person out there who says, if you need some help, I’ll get you some help. They are wearing a uniform. They are an officer, but that’s going to be their front-line job. We are meeting all those needs in hopes of changing a life.”