Kimberly Cummings battled drug and alcohol addiction for more than 20 years leading up to her arrest in April. Cummings, a 38-year-old single mother of three, was convicted of a drug-related felony. As a first-time, nonviolent offender, she faced a 10-year prison sentence. Cummings avoided incarceration and sought help by joining Women in Recovery, an alternative treatment program designed to help nonviolent female offenders.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cummings told a crowd of more than 400 lawmakers, community service workers, state officials and others that she has been clean and sober for nine months and eight days thanks to support from Women in Recovery. "As a client, I now have a life I never knew existed,” she said. "... I know now that I can succeed.” The room broke into applause as a big smile spread across Cummings’ face. Cummings was part of a panel of women who gave testimony Tuesday during the Women Incarcerated Summit at Oklahoma Christian University. The summit, which was part of the university’s Complex Dialogues series, was designed to address issues related to Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate. A variety of speakers discussed intervention methods and alternative solutions to help nonviolent offenders, who make up 68 percent of Oklahoma’s female prison population, according to the George Kaiser Family Foundation. In June, the foundation partnered with Family and Children’s Services to create Women in Recovery. The program serves 25 nonviolent offenders, but organizers are planning to expand to include 50 clients during the next few months.