Department Of Corrections Proposes Lowering Prison Guard Minimum Age Requirement

Tuesday, December 3rd 2019, 7:12 am
By: News On 6

The Department of Corrections is asking lawmakers to lower the minimum age of prison guards to just 18-years-old. 

The request comes after years of what officials called staffing shortages and burnout.

Right now the minimum age for a guard is 20-years-old, but the DOC is asking lawmakers to allow guards who are the same age as high school seniors to walk the blocks of Oklahoma prisons.

The request comes after years of staffing shortages, high turn-over rates, and a competitive hiring pool has limited the Department of Corrections' ability to hire new guards. 

Over the summer, the DOC said it was looking to fill more than 600 entry-level positions which, at the time, officials said was only the tip of the iceberg. 

DOC spokesperson Matt Elliot said the department is looking to keep up with best practices that are already being used in states like Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas where 18-year-olds can already apply. 

But the request has raised concerns of civil rights and justice reform advocates who said giving oversight power--in some cases life or death power--to teenagers could be dangerous for inmates and corrections staff alike. 

Ford tells News On 6 he'd be open to letting 18-year-olds to become guards, and said if the state allows them to serve in the military then the state should allow them to serve in prisons, too.

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