From time to time, we use the OK Policy blog to post submissions we receive from Oklahomans who have interesting perspectives on important policy issues for the state. This entry is from Amy Santee, Senior Program Officer with George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa. The opinions stated below are not necessarily the opinions of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. This blog is a venue to help promote the discussion of ideas from various points of view and we invite your comments and contributions. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.
Currently, the State of Oklahoma incarcerates more women per capita than any other state in the nation, a rate of 134 per 100,000, compared to a national average of 69 per 100,000. Tulsa County incarcerates at an even higher rate, 169 women per 100,000.
This practice has a devastating impact on thousands of children around our state. There are an estimated 4,500 minor children in Oklahoma with their mothers in prison. These children are at greater risk of school failure, depression, drug and alcohol abuse. Without a successful intervention, they are likely to become the next generation of inmates at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Incarcerating non-violent female offenders does not make economic sense, nor does it protect the public safety. Is it not better public policy to provide these women with treatment and the tools to become better parents and productive citizens?
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