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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: February 10, 2009

Sen. Debbe Leftwich

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Dealing with Children of Women Inmates

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a measure aimed to break cycles of violence that can lead to the children of inmates eventually becoming inmates themselves. Senator Debbe Leftwich is the principal author of Senate Bill 448. This bill would require the judge to have written findings related to the placement of the children of inmates who are single custodial parents, most of whom are women.

“Women who grow up in abusive homes are much more likely to be convicted of felonies themselves. Unfortunately, when these women are sent to prison, their children are often sent to live with the grandparents or other family members that were responsible for that woman’s abuse in the first place,” explained Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. “We need to break the cycle of abuse that results in even more incarcerations once these children are grown.”

Oklahoma ranks first in the nation in the incarceration rate of women. According to the federal government, Oklahoma’s rate of 129 women per 100,000 is 50 percent higher than the national average. According to the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, a 66 percent of women inmates have children.

“Part of the problem is we have a ‘don’t-ask-don’t-tell’ situation within our criminal justice system. Inmates and family members often fly under the radar screen. If we know that an inmate was physically or sexually abused by her parents, we can keep her children from being sent to live in that environment, and hopefully, break this cycle of abuse and incarceration,” Leftwich said.

SB 448 next will be heard by the full Senate for further consideration.

For more information contact:
Sen. Leftwich's Office: 405-521-5557

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