For Profit Jail---Closed

Watonga, OK – Private prison in Watonga closes

WATONGA, Okla. (AP) A private prison that was Watonga's biggest employer has closed, leaving about 300 workers either without jobs or facing transfers to other facilities.

The Diamondback Correctional Facility shipped its last prisoners away on Thursday. The prison opened in 1998 and once housed about 2,000 inmates from Arizona, but Diamondback spokeswoman Sandy Clark says officials in that state decided not to renew contracts with out-of-state prisons.

Clark says the prison's owner, Corrections Corp. of America, has looked for a new client for the Watonga facility, which had a payroll of about $11 million.

Company spokesman Steve Owens says the Watonga facility still will be marketed and that it's hoped that within six months, more prisoners will be located there.

Watonga, located in Blaine County, has a population of about 5,600.


Information from: The Oklahoman,

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.