Oklahoma City developing program similar to Tulsa's Women in Recovery

Women in Recovery was created to reduce Oklahoma's nation-leading female incarceration rate.
BY JOHN ESTUS jestus@opubco.com Published: December 12, 2010

Such efforts are welcomed by Gov. Brad Henry, who signed Steele's bill in June.

Henry said last month that he has “real concerns about the way we enact and carry out our sentencing policies in the state of Oklahoma.”

The outgoing governor urged lawmakers to think proactively as they try to tackle the state's incarceration problem.

“We talk about being smart on crime, but we just haven't done enough. Drug courts are great, health programs are great, but those are backdoor solutions,” Henry said. “We're addressing the problem after the crime is committed, after the damage is done.”

As governor, Henry has reviewed thousands of parole applications. While crimes are many and varied, Henry said nearly every prisoner asking for parole has at least one thing in common: addiction.

“I would estimate as high as 95 percent of them have some drug or alcohol or substance abuse,” Henry said. “Even though they may have been incarcerated for, say, a burglary or a robbery or something like that, if you delve into it, the underlying cause is they were doing it as a means to support their addiction.”

That's why Henry thinks substance abuse prevention efforts are crucial to reducing the state's incarceration rate and, in turn, alleviating its prison problems.

“There aren't any easy ways to do this, but I believe it can be done. It's going to take some concentrated effort and some dollars.”

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