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John H. Lilley inmates join fight to combat COVID-19

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

BOLEY, Okla. – This factory in Boley has never been busier. The inmates at John H. Lilley Correctional Center have been given a monumental responsibility -- to make Oklahoma prisons safer for everyone.  

“It is our responsibility to protect these guys, whether it’s coronavirus or something else that may come into our facilities,” plant manager Dale Friend said. 

 Right now, their job is to manufacture disinfectant and hand sanitizer. This is not an easy task, considering a shortage on raw components. 

“We had to improvise quite a bit, “Friend said. “We ordered alcohol off our paint guy because we couldn’t find it.”  

That “outside the box” thinking has paid off. Oklahoma Correctional Industries has made several batches and thousands of bottles of COVID-fighting sanitizer. And this is just the beginning. 

“We are making a difference, “OCI Acting Director Alex Lunn said. “It’s not something, you’ll pick up a newspaper and see "OCI is saving lives," but we feel it and it helps us get through the day. It feels like we are doing something positive for the state.” 

This prison mattress factory has also been retooled to make face masks. “It keeps us busy,” one inmate said. 

“We have a really good group of guys back there, “According to Friend. “There is a lot of talent back there you just don’t realize you have.” 

Thousands of masks are being sewn, boxed and shipped to facilities across this great state. 

“It gives me a real sense of pride knowing we are doing this," inmate Anthony Bekinnie said. “It really does make us feel good.”

The health of others is in their hands. 

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