The Norman Transcript

July 10, 2013

Program gives chances

By TimTalley
The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Tears streamed from Carrie Slaughter’s eyes as she stood before a crowd of family members, friends and supporters and contemplated the years of incarceration she faced before she entered a prison diversion program for mothers and pregnant women that she said had given her and others a new chance.

Slaughter, 25, was among four women facing a total of more than 15 years of incarceration for a variety of offenses who graduated Tuesday from a prison diversion program for women designed to help them become productive citizens in their communities. Operated by ReMerge of Oklahoma County, the program holds participants accountable while providing services to support their recovery and promote responsible parenting.

Supporters of the program praised its impact on women who complete its rigorous requirements. Terri Woodland, director of ReMerge, said the state incarcerates about 1,200 women a year, including about 300 from Oklahoma County. Diverting the four program graduates from prison will save taxpayers about $250,000 in incarceration costs, Woodland said.

“Oklahoma needs to do more to support programs like this,” said District Attorney David Prater.

“The faces we saw today were the faces of hope.”