Senate approves funding for state prison rodeo reboot

Oklahoma City – The full Senate approved Senate Bill 1427 last week. If approved in the Legislature and signed into law by the governor, it would create a revolving fund for the Department of Corrections and allocate $8.3 million to fund revitalization efforts related to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary Prison Rodeo.

State Senator Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, serves as the author of the bill and said the rodeo reboot will boost morale for incarcerated Oklahomans while also promoting tourism and generating revenue.

“The sport of rodeo is a classic American pastime that brings communities together,” Hamilton said.

“Our partners at DOC are committed to improving the lives of incarcerated Oklahomans, and revitalizing the prison rodeo is one way we can help them carry out their mission. Creating opportunities for inmates in our state will encourage them to remain in good behavioral standing so they can partake in the rodeo events, while also providing a positive setting for the community to rally around them and support them.”

The revitalization efforts are widely supported in the McAlester community and across the state. The enhancements to the rodeo arena will make it suitable for additional rodeos, concerts, sporting events, and more. Hamilton reiterated that the Professional Bull RidersProfessional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and other organizations have expressed interest in utilizing the facilities once construction is complete, furthering the economic impact for surrounding communities and the entire state.

“I appreciate my colleagues for their support of this measure that will support tourism efforts and local economies by bringing thousands of visitors to McAlester. Appropriating these one-time funds will generate revenue for many years to come that can in turn fund improvements at DOC facilities and provide more workforce training, educational opportunities, and health and mental health care for those incarcerated in our state,” Hamilton said.

S.B. 1427 can now be considered by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Representative Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, serves as the House principal author of the measure.

An earlier report on the progress of this legislation can be read at this link:

https://www.citynewsokc.com/community/bills-from-oklahomas-state-rep-grego-and-sen-hamilton-aim-to-restore-prison-rodeo-at/article_eb4d3568-ddab-11ee-947b-f30bdd5b9b38.html

For background on the prison rodeo of times past, go here: https://www.capitolbeatok.com/reports/in-love-with-oklahomas-sweethearts-of-the-prison-rodeo/

Pat McGuigan, writing for CityNewsOKC referenced the Prison Rodeo and its traditional impact in a review of the independent film, “Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo,” about a large group of incarcerated women who participated in the latter years of the Rodeo’s existence.