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Army correctional facility on Fort Sill shuts down

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FORT SILL - After 33 years, the Army's Regional Correctional Facility (RCF) on post was formally deactivated Tuesday morning, marking the last step of the BRAC movement on Fort Sill.

Since 1977, the Army has housed only military personnel awaiting trial or convicted in a military court.  The facility could keep up to 191 inmates, with an average stay of about three to five years.  All Fort Sill inmates still needing to finish their sentence were transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on November 1.

The media has never been inside Fort Sill's RCF because of the possibility of security breaches.  But, Tuesday when 7News spoke to the RCF commander, he said it was so secure in the last ten years that he has managed the center, he has never had a major incident.

RCF Commander Timothy Callahan says that while the building resembles a typical prison, the inmates' mentalities were not so ordinary.

"Generally speaking, the inmates because they had a military background, they still adhered, for the most part, they still adhered to military customs and courtesies," said Callahan.

Callahan says military prisoners came from all over - Texas, New York, even Germany.  The range of crimes committed varied.

"We could have anywhere from somebody who was AWOL all the way up to manslaughter," said Callahan.

Now, Fort Leavenworth, KS will be the main hub for military detention.  They recently built a joint regional correctional facility, which is part of the military correctional complex and it is all because of BRAC.

"The Department of the Army is consolidating their facilities, so they closed down Fort Knox and Fort Sill," said Callahan.

So what is in store for Fort Sill's now closed RCF?  Garrison Commander Col. Raymond Lacey says range control could soon call it home.

"So our range control is in a number of smaller disperse buildings," said Lacey.

Another possible contender is Fort Sill's Network Enterprise Center.  They are needing to grow, but in a secure facility.  Lacey says before anyone could move in, the old RCF needs to be renovated up to administrative standards.

"We have a team from the United States Army Corps of Engineers at this time doing a study for us.  What makes the most sense, what's the most cost effective because obviously we're using tax payer's dollars, so we want to be good stewards of the government's money," said Lacey.

It could take a year before the transformation is complete and even though this day was bittersweet for some, handing over the RCF to Fort Sill shows the future of the Army.

"This is our final BRAC action.  This is the final piece of BRAC; the movement of the Regional Confinement Center to Fort Leavenworth.  Every other BRAC action is in process.  So the last couple of BRAC buildings are being built," said Lacey.

Lacey says Fort Sill is on track with completing BRAC and is even well ahead of the September 2011 deadline.  As for Fort Sill's military correctional officers, they will be reassigned to other detention centers, like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Germany, and the military complex in Fort Leavenworth, KS.

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