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May 14, 2014

Dual prison event to feature photo exhibit, discussion about incarceration

NORMAN — A dual prison event featuring a prison photography exhibit by an ex-convict and a discussion of incarceration in Oklahoma has been set for Sunday.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. at the West Wind Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 1309 W. Boyd St.

The prison photography exhibit by Gary Harger will depict daily life in prison. It is an exhibit of about 40 black and white photographs. Harger has done a significant amount of time in prison but has been out on parole for several years.

Quaker John Fletcher will talk about mass incarceration on a national, state and community level, with special emphasis placed on women incarceration and the S-CAP re-entry program in Norman.

“The threshold to incarceration is the state’s county jails. Therefore, not only is S-CAP important to Cleveland County, but it serves as a model for other counties in (Oklahoma) to follow,” Fletcher said. “Programs like S-CAP can and will reduce mass incarceration in (Oklahoma).”

According to an Oklahoma State Senate press release, a bill to lower Oklahoma’s female incarceration rate was signed into law in April.

Senate Bill 1278, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Leslie Osborn, will create a “Pay for Success” contract pilot program to help nonviolent female offenders get the substance abuse treatment, counseling and other services they need to become self-sufficient, productive citizens.

The new law will go into effect Nov. 1.

“Our prisons are overflowing, underfunded and understaffed. We must be smarter when it comes to addressing crime in our state, especially nonviolent drug offenses,” David said in the press release. “We can no longer afford to simply warehouse nonviolent offenders. We need to address the cause of their problems ...

“Incarceration simply feeds the cycle of poverty and crime, which is why our recidivism rates are also some of the highest in the country. This is a proven program that has a high success rate of rehabilitating female offenders and getting them back to their families and out of the corrections system for good.”

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