The Norman Transcript


March 14, 2014

Program keeps women out of state prisons

NORMAN — Legislation making changes in the way Oklahoma locks up prisoners is nothing new at the Capitol. Every session sees another idea to reform our system of criminal justice. Sometimes the legislation doesn’t have a champion and it goes nowhere.

If lawmakers approve and the governor supports its implementation, a pilot program that helps keep women out of prison could make a difference in lives and in overcrowded prisons. It could make a dent in Oklahoma’s claim to locking up more women per capita than any other state.

Senate Bill 1278, authored by Sens. Kim David and Sean Burrage, sailed through the Senate this week. Like the successful drug courts, it is a last-chance effort to stay with their families, get jobs and counseling.

The bill, which is now headed to the House, authorizes the state to contract with programs that have proven track records of turning non-violent women’s lives around. It reduces the public cost of imprisoning women and may end the cycle of incarceration that plagues so many families.

Nonprofit groups, like the successful one in Tulsa that works with more than 100 women, would run the programs and only be reimbursed when the women are successfully rehabilitated.

Eighty-five percent of the women incarcerated in Oklahoma leave children behind, often in the care of relatives or the state.

The reality is that many of the women never make it to state prison beds. They end up serving much of their sentences in county jails, where there is no treatment or mental health services.

We urge House members to get behind the program and find ways to intervene in women’s lives, cut taxpayer costs and help keep the next generation out of prison.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014

  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • What’s causing these earthquakes?

    Much of north central Oklahoma has been experiencing about an earthquake a day this year. Statewide, there have been 2,270 small earthquakes so far compared to 2,848 in all of 2013. The question of whether oilfield “fracking” and ...

    July 19, 2014

  • Bankers and the pot biz

    It’s not a problem in Oklahoma — and probably won’t be for a long time, if ever — but bankers in states that allow medical and recreational marijuana have trouble dealing with marijuana-related businesses....

    July 18, 2014

  • Shelter petitioners face big challenge

    The debate over who should fund storm shelters for public schools has moved from politicians to the people....

    July 18, 2014

  • More jobs needed to boost economy

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s cautious optimism about the nation’s economy was reassuring to the stock market Tuesday. Yellen said the economy continued to improve but the recovery is not yet complete....

    July 17, 2014

  • Technology fights crime

    Cellular telephones are being used to solve crimes every day. Drivers routinely call in and report bad drivers, suspected drunk drivers or suspicious activity....

    July 17, 2014