Oklahoma State Senate
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: March
Senator Debbe Leftwich
Senator Leftwich Calls Results of Study on Women Inmates and Children
The second phase of a study of women inmates in Oklahoma
has just been released by the Commission on Children and Youth.
The study focused on women inmates with children.
Leftwich was principal author of SJR 48, which called for the
study. Leftwich said while not surprising, the findings were nothing
short of “disturbing.”
“About 76% of the women surveyed said they’d been victims
of childhood abuse as well as adult victims of abuse—physical
and sexual. What Oklahomans need to know is that when those women
were incarcerated, more than a third said their children were placed
in the home of the same relative who had abused them to begin with,”
Leftwich said. “These children have a high likelihood of following
mother’s footsteps in more ways than one unless we do something
The study also showed that while approximately 76% of the women
said they’d used drugs more than once a week prior to going
to prison, one in three said they were not receiving substance abuse
treatment while behind bars.
“We need to be smarter about how we approach this problem.
Simply locking women up, not giving them treatment and sending the
children to live with abusive relatives is not the answer. It simply
perpetuates the problem and costs Oklahoma taxpayers millions and
millions of dollars in the process.”
Senator Leftwich said she hoped the report would help raise public
awareness and support for alternative programs like drug court,
which have proven to be an effective and less expensive way to deal
with drug offenders. She also pointed to the need for a closer look
at where children of incarcerated mothers are being placed.
“Oklahoma has more women in prison per capita than any state
in the nation. We also know that of the women surveyed, two-thirds
have legal custody of their children and plan to reunite with them
once released. It is imperative that we look at programs that can
break these cycles of substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse
and incarceration. If we continue with the status quo, we’re
throwing away tax dollars and wasting lives,” Leftwich said.
Senate Communications Office - (405) 521-5774