Women in Prison

A female inmate waits inside Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center on the first day of her incarceration at the facility. ADAM WISNESKI/Tulsa World file

I am writing about the alarming statistics surrounding the ever-growing population of incarcerated mothers in our state.

Oklahoma holds the U.S. title of highest female incarceration rate, and the Department of Corrections does not have a prison nursery program available for incarcerated mothers. This is concerning for a few reasons.

First, children who do not attach to their caregivers are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders later in life.

Creating and fostering this attachment is vital throughout childhood, and it is especially important that young children can bond with their caregivers. Research shows attached children are healthier and more successful overall.

Second, states with prison nursery programs have seen mothers who participate have significantly lower rates of recidivism.

In states where these programs are available, women who are accepted must have short sentences and non-violent crimes. These requirements ensure the safety of the children and provides services to those who will benefit the most.

Allowing women and children access to these educational programs and the opportunity to bond in a safe and monitored environment also reduces the number of children in the foster care system.

Program for incarcerated mothers that allow bonding and education would be beneficial for Oklahoma as a whole. It would mean fewer children with mental illness and fewer women going in and out of prison.

The positive outcomes would be significant, and Oklahoma cannot continue to ignore the evidence.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Send letters to letters@tulsaworld.com.


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