Dr. Sharp, Presidential Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at the University of Oklahoma, began conducting research on the life histories of Oklahoma’s incarcerated women 10 years ago. Through her continued efforts to educate the public on issues of female criminal behavior she has helped make it possible for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to facilitate the needs of it’s female prison population.
Female Incarceration in Oklahoma
I’ve written about several times on this blog, Oklahoma is currently ranked number one for female incarceration per capita in the United States. Despite the fact that Oklahoma’s crime rate ranks 17th nationally, our female incarceration rate has peaked at over twice the national average for women. Oklahoma incarcerates 134 women for every 100,000, while the national average is 60 for every 100,000 women.
Nearly 70 percent of Oklahoma’s incarcerated women are non-violent offenders, their presence in Oklahoma Correctional Facilities largely attributable to drug abuse, the distribution of controlled substances, prostitution and property crimes.
There is a lot of great information on the Women Behind Bars website. Please check it out. Here are some stats I pulled from their research:
Approximately 60 percent of Oklahoma’s female prisoners have been the victims of sexual and physical abuse as children, over 90 percent have been the victims of domestic violence in their adult lives, and nearly all of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder related to these experiences.
In addition, over half of the women in Oklahoma’s correctional facilities have less than a high school education, over half are mothers, and many of them are the heads of single parent led households.
It costs Oklahoma approximately $24,000 per inmate, per year to sustain the current female incarceration rate.
Children with an incarcerated mother are also affected, and are five times as likely to end up in prison themselves.
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