Warden at JLCC in Boley dies at age 57
By Ken Childers
A longtime employee of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC), who most recently served as warden of the John H. Lilley Correctional Center in Boley, has passed away at the age of 57.
Debra Ann Aldridge died Monday, July 6, in Muskogee. Funeral services were 2 p.m. Friday July 10 at Brumley-Mills Chapel in McAlester, where she was honored by the Department of Corrections Honor Guard.
Aldridge worked for more than 20 years at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, and in 2015 she was asked to become warden of Oklahoma’s largest prison for women, the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud. She became warden at Boley in January 2019 and held the post until her death.
While at Mable Bassett, Aldridge was instrumental in launching the RISE program, which assists female inmates in obtaining their Oklahoma State Board Cosmetology license, job placement, housing, clothing, transportation, and recovery support prior to their re-entry into society. RISE is an acronym for “Re-entry Investment/Student Education.”
RISE was the brainchild of Christy Luther, a former inmate who saw a need in Oklahoma and collaborated with ODOC and the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering Boards to get permission to grant certificates to those completing the program at Mabel Bassett. The program drew the support of Aldridge while she was warden.
Aldridge, originally from western Kansas, was the first person in her family to enter law enforcement or corrections. She worked as a dispatcher for a police department in a Denver suburb, then moved to McAlester, where some of her family lived, to work at the prison.
Aldridge started as a typist clerk, then became a unit secretary, procedures secretary and a unit manager. She was later named deputy warden of the Howard McLeod Correctional Center, a male minimum-security facility, located southeast of Atoka. She was there for only three months when the warden became terminally ill, and Aldridge took on his job in addition to her job as deputy.
Aldridge herself became ill, suffering an aneurysm that required surgery. After being out for 34 days, she agreed to return to work and three days later, she was asked to become warden at Mabel Bassett, where she stayed until moving to J.H. Lilley just over 18 months ago.