Dr. Susan F. Sharp is the L. J. Semrod Presidential Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma. She has conduced extensive research on the criminal justice system and is the author of numerous reports on female prisoners and their children.
Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate is harming our state. If our state had an exceptionally high crime rate, we might be able to justify having the highest per capita incarceration rate of women in the United States. Indeed, our female incarceration rate of 132 per 100,000 is nearly double the national average of 68 per 100,000. But, our crime rate is not double the national crime rate. We rank 17th in violent crimes, and our violent crime rate is very similar to the national average. So, we are not incarcerating women as a matter of public safety.
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