Research demonstrates that the pathways to incarceration for many Oklahoma women begin early in childhood. Childhood experiences of child physical and sexual abuse, chaotic home environments and poverty present hurdles to educational attainment and transform into later substance abuse and addiction and problems with mental illness. Adult victimization and experiences of domestic violence are the adult parallels of childhood experiences. Children who live in environments such as these today have a significantly increased risk of being incarcerated tomorrow. Without intervention, the cycle continues.
Oklahoma continues to rank number one in female incarceration. The costs are immeasurable to our children, our families, our communities, our state and our future.
Common Characteristics of Female Offenders
History of family dysfunction, trauma and violence | Substance abuse and addiction | Medical Issues | Economic marginalization and poverty | Women offenders as mothers | Unhealthy Relationships
- 66% Child physical and/or sexual abuse
- 61% Divorced parents
- 53% Ran away from home before age 18
- 71% Domestic violence
- 36% Victims of rape past the age of 18
At Reception (FY 2010):
- 63% Need for substance abuse treatment
- 57% Mental illness (current or past)
- 84% Unemployed at time of arrest
- 70% Need for basic education
Children of Incarcerated Parents
- There are approximately 4,624 children under the age of 18 with a mother in prison in Oklahoma.
Risk Factors for Children of Incarcerated Parents
Children of incarcerated parents are at risk of:
- Poor School Performance
- Drug Use
- Mental Health Problems
- Exposure to parental substance abuse, extreme poverty and domestic violence
- Running Away from Home
- Dropping Out of School
During FY 2010, 1,393 female offenders were received into the Oklahoma Department of Corrections – an increase of 109 over FY 2009. The largest numbers of receptions during Fiscal Year 2010 were from Oklahoma, Tulsa, Comanche, Creek, Pottawatomie, Garfield and Grady counties.
Top Five Offenses: Female Offender Receptions
During FY 2010, 78.6% of the female offender population was sent to prison on a non-violent offense.
- 1,271 female offenders served their sentence and were released during Fiscal Year 2010
- 38% of these female offenders served less than 1 year in prison
Barriers to Employment
- Education – 70% of ODOC female receptions assessed a need for education
- Limited work history and work skills
- Statutory/regulatory – Ex-offenders face bans from employment in certain industries
- Transportation – In Oklahoma, drug offenders may have their license revoked, even if offense does not relate to a motor vehicle
Source: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Division of Female Offenders Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report.