Camille Landry is a writer, activist, and social justice advocate who lives in Oklahoma City. This post is part of our “Neglected Oklahoma” series, which tells the stories of Oklahomans in situations where the basic necessities of life are hard to come by. These are real people and their stories are true (names have been changed to protect privacy).
Information in this article was relayed to Camille by a 46-year-old inmate serving an 11-year sentence in an Oklahoma Department of Corrections facility.
I’m not unusual. Not at all. I am one of more than 26,000 human beings incarcerated by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC). About 3,000 of us are women — who are imprisoned here at a rate higher than anywhere else in the world — and some of us are children who were tried and sentenced as adults. Some of us are guilty of serious crimes. Some of us are guilty of lesser offenses that would not lead to incarceration in other states. Some of us are innocent. All of us are your fellow citizens, members of your community — maybe members of your family.
The DOC says 55 percent of us suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse. Our average age is 37, but some of us are elderly. Some of us are ill: cancer, arthritis, diabetes, kidney failure, and other maladies add to our misery. Some of us will die here. Some of us have lost our health, mobility and function of our bodies because we did not receive needed medical attention. Some of us will be sentenced to death by medical neglect.
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