Tulsa Girl Scout council gets grant for prison program

Thursday, April 3rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A Tulsa Girl Scout council is one of 14 nationwide chosen for a program that seeks to improve relationships between imprisoned mothers and their daughters.

The Girl Scouts of Magic Empire Council received a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mothers Encouraging and Nurturing Their Daughters will recruit mothers in the Turley Correctional Center for the program. The Turley facility is a privately operated halfway house for women.

The program will begin in May with weekly meetings at the center. Monthly and quarterly meetings involving the guardians will follow.

``We have a mission to serve every girl, everywhere,'' Karen Morgan, executive director of the Magic Empire Council, said Wednesday. ``We inspire girls for high ideals of compassion, character, community service and patriotism. We want them to grow up to be happy and resourceful citizens.''

The program will take the principles of Girl Scouts to try to re-establish a relationship between the mothers and daughters and provide a foundation for communication and life skills.

Emphasis will be on character-building aspects such as substance abuse prevention, promoting healthy behavior, developing leadership skills, decision-making and conflict resolution.

The girls also will participate in traditional Girl Scout activities, many of which include community service projects.

In 2001, Oklahoma had the highest rate of female incarceration in the nation, more than double the national average. Oklahoma incarcerates 130 women per 100,000 residents; the national average is 52 per 100,000, according to the Department of Justice.

Studies show that children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely than other children to end up in criminal court.

``Because Oklahoma has the highest rate, it is natural for us to do this program,'' Morgan said. ``Girl Scouts are the experts in girls.

``If girls are not in happy homes, we want to make a change for them,'' she said. ``We want to change the world and are doing that one girl at a time.''

The Magic Empire Council is the first in Oklahoma to offer a prison-based program. The council serves 14 northeastern counties with about 13,000 girls.