Oklahoma State Senate Press Release ...reprint
August 29, 2009, Meeting To Address Female Incarceration, Re-entry, & Expungement.
Senator Connie Johnson announced on Friday, that legislators, Dept. of Corrections Officials, members
of community-based organizations and the public will meet in the Senate Chamber on Thurs, Sept 3
for a discussion on the impact of the state's high incarceration rates.
Senator Johnson said there is an immediate need for the state to begin addressing this issue with a
comprehensive plan, as Oklahoma currently incarcerates more women per capita than any other state!
And is the third highest incarcerator of both men and women per capita. In 2009, the state spent $503
million on correction costs, including an additional $24 million in emergency supplemental funding to
cover increasing offender growth and operating costs.
"We can no longer set this issue aside while the cost of our high incarceration rates continue to take a
toll on our state, our communities and our families", said Johnson. "In order for us to correct this problem
we must examine the causes that lead to incarceration and methods to reduce recidivism and ensure
successful re-entry. By doing so, Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to be on the cutting edge in developing
a comprehensive plan to address the impact of incarceration on our communities."
According to statistics from the Department of Corrections, Oklahoma's incarceration rate ranks first
nationally for females & fourth for males. Of the 25,120 prisoners, currently in Oklahoma correctional
facilities, 2,587 are women. Of those women, 77% are non-violent offenders. Senator Johnson noted that
since 1986, the Department of Corrections budget has grown 250%, more than twice the rate of increase
for education spending.
"We want to be tough on crimes that warrant a tough response, but we must be "smart on crime", when
dealing with non-violent offenders who, with comprehensive rehabilitation and education, can be fairly punished
and then return to society to be productive taxpaying citizens. Through a collaborative effort between
legislative leaders, state agencies, mental health advocacy groups and community-based service organizations,
I'm confident we can develop a smarter plan to reduce our overall prison population while keeping violent
offenders off the streets," Johnson said. "It's time for us to finally acknowledge this issue as a pressing
legislative and social concern and begin addressing it accordingly".
"It's time to develop a system that works both fairly and equitably, while reducing our economically
unsustainable prison population".
This group will meet from 1:30pm-4pm in the Senate Chamber on Sept 3.
The meeting will be open to the public.
For more information, contact: Senator Johnson 405-521-5531