Community Work Centers (CWC): Oklahoma’s experiment in public works.

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L. M. Hynson, Jr.,


As an alternative to incarceration, Oklahoma Community Work Centers (CWCs) from their beginning have been a cooperative venture in which legislators and local communi­ties and their leaders play a significant role. Based on interviews with Department of Corrections professionals, the researcher found that higher level of professional commit­ment and innovative structures kept the costs down. CWCs cost less to operate because the host DOC facilities provide many administrative services that are not then duplicated at the community level. Thus organizational clusters require fewer professionals to oper­ate them. CWCs do alleviate overcrowding in prisons and jails and provide jobs within Oklahoma communities. These facilities showed cost savings, benefited the communities economically, and provided an overall economic benefit to Oklahoma. In an era of in­creased accountability, scarcity of resources, and prison overcrowding, state legislators and the public welcome cost savings. Thus CWCs allowed for a win-win situation where all the players win-professionals, communities, inmates, and the public. From a regional and national perspective, the researcher found a cross-fertilization of new ideas that has implications for others. Oklahoma now has enough working CWCs to attract national attention. CWC staff often get requests from other states, as well as Oklahoma communi­ties, inquiring about CWC programs asking about how well they work, how much they cost, how they operate. As this study shows: CWCs are not only effective programs, they are also cost effective. What we find is that Community Work Centers (CWCs) are indeed Oklahoma's experiment in public works.

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