Anita Trammell, Warden
P.O. Box 97
Corner of West & Stonewall
McAlester, OK 74502-0097
(918) 423-4700 Fax: (918) 423-3862
Opened in 1908
Prior to statehood in 1907, all felons convicted in Oklahoma Territory were transferred to Kansas, at a cost of 25 cents per day. After statehood, McAlester was chosen as the site for the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and 1,556 acres northwest of McAlester was set aside for the maximum security facility.
Construction began in 1908, when $850,000 was appropriated by the legislature. Inmates were returned from Kansas to do the work. The first buildings constructed at the site were the West Cellhouse and the Administration Building. Later, the Rotunda and the East Cellhouse were constructed. Additional buildings were constructed on an as-needed basis.
In order to provide work for the inmates, an industry program was developed. A tailor shop, shoe manufacturing plant, and cane mill were among the first industry programs implemented.
As the population inside OSP grew, new housing units were added. The "F" cellhouse was added in 1937, and later the New Cellhouse was constructed. Of the four main housing units occupied, only the new cellhouse no longer exists. This unit was severely damaged in the riot of 1973, and was torn down in 1976. Later, a 50-man disciplinary unit was built west of the main institution. The inmate population nicknamed this unit "The Rock."
The most costly prison riot in the history of the nation broke out on July 27, 1973. Damage was estimated to be between $20 million and $40 million.
A federal court in 1978 found conditions at the penitentiary unconstitutional. Consequently, four new housing units were built and in 1984 the aging East and West Cellhouses were closed.
The Talawanda Heights Minimum Security Unit was opened outside the East Gate Area in October of 1989 to house inmates utilized by the host facility in institutional support positions.
A Special Care Unit was opened July 20, 1992, to ensure that the needs of special management offenders are met. This unit provides mental health care to offenders, thereby reducing the need for long-term hospitalization outside the facility.
The newest addition, "H Unit," provides new quarters for disciplinary segregation inmates, death row, and the lethal injection death chamber. H Unit also houses Administrative Segregation and Level III general population inmates.