Gov. Parson visits Cameron
With the gubernatorial election just around the corner, Gov. Mike Parson dropped by the Western Missouri Correctional Center and the Cameron Missouri Veterans Home while on the campaign trail Thursday.
Parson made his first stop at WMCC, which recently consolidated with Crossroads Correctional Center and experienced significant hardships while attempting to reduce COVID-19 infections among its staff and prisoners.
“This has really been the first time I’ve been back here since the pandemic took place,” Parson said. “It really gives me the opportunity right now to go out and thank a lot of people who were on the front lines every day since this pandemic started.”
During his 2019 State of the State Address, Parson announced the consolidation of WMCC and Crossroads Correctional Center, combining maximum, medium and minimum offenders under one roof. Despite the difficulty of housing offenders of all three security classifications, Parson said personnel made significant efforts in limiting the spread of COVID-19 among its prisoner population and staff.
“I got to talk to a lot of the employees today and tell them thanks for the job they’ve done,” Parson said. “When you really look at Missouri, and compare them to all of the states in the United States, the director (Chris Brewer) and department of corrections have been leaders in the United States on how they have proactively handled this virus. We’re so thankful for that, especially when you look around at the other states and the problems they’ve had with people being incarcerated. We’re probably one of the model states that’s really done a good job of handling the situation.”
As for consolidating the facility itself, Parson said the transition has gone well. He added the future for the former Crossroads Correctional Center facility remains undetermined.
“The director and her administration have done a great job in doing this and it’s been a great help to the state of Missouri. It’s also a model of how we can do it in other parts of the state as we move forward and how we proceed with this,” Parson said. “As far as the negative side, so far, we just haven’t heard much negative feedback to it. Part of this reform for what we’re doing in corrections goes back to what I started up originally as governor. We’re trying to figure out how to get people out of prison and back into the workforce. That is the main thing. How do you consolidate the money and programs to help people get back to work whether it’s education, rehab? That’s what we’re doing.”
Parson then drove through downtown on his way to the Cameron Missouri Veterans Home. Once there, he toured the facility before joining Vietnam War veteran Richard Walker’s first face-to-face visit with his wife Bonnie since the facility closed to visitors as the COVID-19 outbreak tore through the US in March.
“The veterans in there were complementary about how the administration works and how they’re handling things,” Parson said. “For the employees, it’s been really tough on them. They have to come here and make sure they’re safe. That adds stress to their lives, plus they have families at home they have to worry about … From talking to the veterans, I could not have heard more positive comments.”