Women's Prison Renamed After Trail Blazer Kate Barnard

Apr 26, 2013

The Oklahoma Board of Corrections has voted to rename  Oklahoma City's Hillside Community Corrections Center in honor of the state's  first commissioner of charities and corrections. The board voted Thursday to rename the facility as the Kate Barnard Community  Corrections Center.

Catherine Ann "Kate" Barnard (May 23, 1875 - February 23, 1930)
Credit Courtesy Library of Congress

  The facility opened in 2003 and houses about 250 female  inmates. The Oklahoman reports  that Barnard, who died in 1930,  was elected commissioner of charities and corrections in 1907.  She was the first woman to be elected as a state official in Oklahoma.  After her election as the Charities and Corrections Commissioner, she was a key player in the enactment of the compulsory education laws, state support of poor widows dependent on their children's earnings and statutes implementing the constitutional ban on child labor.     She was also an advocate for working Oklahomans through the work she did in securing legislation and eradicating unsafe working conditions and the blacklist of union members.  She was one of the few public officials to speak out against the abuse of Native American children. She is credited with helping create the Department of Mental Health, Department  of Human Services and Corrections Department.