Tulsa County Sees Major Drop In Women Incarceration
TULSA COUNTY, Oklahoma - Oklahoma leads the nation in incarceration rates for women, and it seems that lead is growing.
Oklahoma Watch reports a 9.5 percent overall increase in women in prison in the state over 2015, with a 33 percent increase in Oklahoma County.
The big exception in the report is Tulsa county, where there is not only a big push to keep women from going from jail to prisons, but also to keep them out of jail in the first place.
And Tulsa County is succeeding with the push.
Amie Mannon got out of prison last fall, on methamphetamine charges.
"I had drug problems and drug problems accelerate," she said.
Mannon joined a program called Take Two, where she and other former inmates work full-time at a cafe in downtown Tulsa, getting job experience and other resources to ultimately stay out of prison.
It's a program hosted by the Resonance Center for Women, which believes in drug treatment instead of imprisonment.
"A lot of the women that are incarcerated are non-violent offenders,” said Deidra Kirtley with the Resonance Center for Women. “They have addiction problems."
A report by Oklahoma Watch says female incarceration rose by 9.5 percent across the state this fiscal year, according to the Department of Corrections; but Tulsa County stands out - it sent 24 percent fewer women to prison, a dramatic drop.
Betsy Jackson is part of the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women, which set out to tackle female incarceration rates.
Jackson said programs like Take Two, Women in Recovery and Drug Court are all working for Tulsa.
"They have made great strides, and it has a lot to do with the agencies and the collaboration in the city," she said.
There's still work to be done, but lower female incarceration rates mean more families staying together so women's children will be more likely to stay out of prison, too.
Kirtley said, "I think everyone has a lot to be proud of."
As for men in prison, Tulsa County sent 15 percent fewer men to state prisons last fiscal year.