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Forum Post: In Oklahoma, an alternative to prison for nonviolent women

Posted 1 year ago on March 27, 2013, 9:09 a.m. EST by GirlFriday (21785)
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Oklahoma's high female incarceration rate is related to strict mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders, poverty and the state's historically weak response to child abuse and drug addiction, according to Amy Santee, a senior program officer for the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa.

Their trauma started very early in life," she said, adding that "it's very difficult to access substance abuse treatment unless you have money."

The foundation has provided key funding for an alternative prison program called Women in Recovery that began in 2009 and is aimed at young mothers in Tulsa County. The Oklahoma County program, called ReMerge, is patterned on the Tulsa experiment. ReMerge is funded by non-profits and by state and local government agencies.

Many women in the programs have been sexually or physically abused as children, are victims of domestic violence and are addicted to drugs or alcohol, program officials said.

In many cases, the women have lost custody of their children, are estranged from their families and find themselves without a support system, said Terri Woodland, program director of ReMerge.

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