Grego Bill to Help Restore Prison Rodeo Passes House

Mar 08, 2024
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The House on Thursday passed a bill by Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, that would create a revolving fund to restart the prison rodeo at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

House Bill 3749 would direct the fund to be used for complete revitalization of the prison rodeo grounds in McAlester. The last rodeo was held at the facility in 2009.

"For many years, the prison held a rodeo in this facility that was very popular with inmates and their families as well as staff, and it drew visitors from across the nation to Southeast Oklahoma," Grego said. "The rodeo was discontinued due to a lack of funding and deterioration of the grounds, but we have support now to reintroduce this event and reap the economic reward it will bring."

Grego said the Department of Corrections has committed to putting $1 million toward the project, and both the City of McAlester and the McAlester Chamber of Commerce are supportive. He said the Oklahoma Department of Tourism has committed to promoting the rodeo once it is again in operation.

Grego said many professional cowboys have expressed an interest in holding events at the McAlester prison once the rodeo grounds are restored. He said the Oklahoma Department of Commerce agrees the event will have a positive economic impact on McAlester and surrounding areas of Southeast Oklahoma. This could bring a return on investment to the Department of Corrections and the state and local economy.

Currently, Louisiana is the only state that has a behind-the-walls prison rodeo. Grego said the rodeo is seen as a positive event that gives inmates something to look forward to and work toward, improving their outlook and behavior.

HB3749 now moves to the Senate. 

Oklahoma House of Representatives seal