So, do you ever stop and reflect on why this great state of Oklahoma incarcerates more adult females per 100, 000 than any other state? As a matter of fact, we incarcerate more females per capita than any other place in the world. What makes this even more note worthy for discussion is that Dr. Jim Austin, a nationally recognized social research and developer of offender risk assessments, etc. has recognized that Oklahoma has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the nation.
I have heard discussion referring to the misery index and/or scale and how that has more of an impact on the female incarceration rate than on males. The misery scale refers to those social factors that in many cases can be linked to increased probability that a state will have high incarceration rates. For example, Oklahoma rates high if not in the top ten for sexually and physically abused children, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, illiteracy, substance abuse, and untreated mental illness. This list is not all inclusive and I am sure you can think of other social ills to add to the list. Obviously not all of these items are always criminogenic and are included on risk and needs assessments, but they certainly do help explain social problems that consistently arise when surveying our female incarcerated population.
So what do we do about the number one ranking for female incarceration? The department has certainly maximized its limited program resources in this area. Career Tech programs, reentry efforts, wrap around services, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and an array of specialized efforts like Girl Scouts Beyond Bars are making a difference and is the main reason our recidivism rates are so low. The expansion of Community Sentencing, Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts should also continue to have a greater impact in diverting women from incarceration. Female offenders are one of the issues where the old cliché of “spend money now to save money later” certainly is applicable. Resources and funding to divert offenders and the same to reduce recidivism for those incarcerated will show great dividends for the next generations of Oklahomans. Unlike sports, having the number one ranking for female incarceration rates should be embarrassing. We should apply every best practice possible in an effort to be last in the nation.
David Henneke was appointed to the Oklahoma Board of Corrections in 1999 and reappointed in 2005. He served two terms as Chairman, the first from 7-1-03 thru 6-30-04, and the second from 7-1-04 thru 6-30-05. He currently is a member of the Budget, State Board Interface, and Population/Capacity Committees of the Board of Corrections. He has been an advocate for effective programs, adequate staffing and pay for employees and an adequate budget for the agency during his service on the Board.
Henneke is a native Oklahoman who was born in Enid, lived and attended school in Drummond and graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1978. He was the Outstanding Graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences in 1978. He graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1980 and admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1981. He has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth and Tenth Circuits; U.S. District Court, Northern, Eastern and Western Districts of Oklahoma; and U.S. Tax Court. He has also served on the Garfield County Fairgrounds Trust Authority, the Garfield County Jail Judicial Authority, Grand National Quail Club, and the Grand National Quail Foundation.
Mike Oakley was appointed to serve as General Counsel to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, effective January 1, 2007. Mike holds a B.S. degree from Oklahoma State University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He began his legal career in private practice and has served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Moore, Oklahoma, and as Land Manager for an independent oil and gas company in Oklahoma City.
Mike joined the Department of Corrections in 1989 as Coordinator of the Mediation/Court Services Unit, and later assumed responsibilities for the Community Service Sentencing Program as well. Mike has also served as Administrator of Classification and supervised the Population and Classification office at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center. Mike joined the Department of Corrections’ Legal Division in 1996.
Oklahoma State Reformatory
received 100% on mandatory standards and 99.5% on non-mandatory standards.
Probation and Parole
received 100% on mandatory standards and 97.2% on non-mandatory standards.
The Correctional Training Academy in Wilburton hosted a graduation ceremony
on December 14, 2006, for Correctional Officer Cadet Class W103006. Curtis
Hood, Chief of Security, R.B. “Dick” Conner Correctional Center
was the graduation speaker. The 44 cadets in this class successfully completed
the required 240 hours of pre-service instruction. Eighteen different facilities
ranging in security level from maximum security to community security had
students in W103006.
The staff of the Correctional Training Academy in Wilburton would like to commend the Class of W103006 on a job well done and wish them the best of luck in their careers with the Department of Corrections.
Dick Conner Correctional Center
Kate Barnard Community
Oklahoma State Penitentiary
Lexington Assessment &
Northeast Correctional Center
KATE BARNARD 1907 - 1915
Kate Barnard was a key figure in the history of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. She was an active social reformer and the first female in the nation and in the world at that time, to ever be elected to a statewide office without a single female vote. She was elected the first Commissioner of the Department of Charities and Corrections during a time that women were not allowed to vote in Oklahoma. Ms. Barnard, concerned about numerous complaints regarding the treatment of Oklahoma inmates, made an unannounced visit to Lansing, Kansas, and discovered inmates were not receiving proper medical care, not being fed, were working in the mines, and were basically being brutalized. Upon her return to Oklahoma, Ms. Barnard set out to terminate the contract for prison services with the state of Kansas and started an effort to build the first Oklahoma prison. Ms.Barnard, believing prison should be rehabilitative rather than punitive, lobbied for changes. From the time of her election in 1907 until the end of her two terms of office in 1915, Ms. Barnard got 30 statutory laws passed through the Oklahoma Legislature, a record that few legislators could boast about or compete with even today. These laws all had to do with the establishment of what is today called the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections.
MABEL BASSETT 1923 - 1947
Mabel Bassett served as the third Commissioner of Charities and Corrections. She was a reformer and a diligent lobbyist like her predecessor, Kate Barnard. During her tenure, Ms. Bassett worked to establish and maintain standards for juvenile and adult correctional facilities, and also the state’s mental institutions. She was responsible for establishing the State Pardon and Parole Board in 1944 in an effort to create a more equitable system for inmates to be reviewed for a pardon, leave, or parole. She was also involved in building the facility that once housed women at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary with funds raised through legislative appropriation. Among her other accomplishments, Ms. Bassett fought for the statute, enacted by the Eighth Oklahoma Legislature, making wife and child desertion a felony. She was also responsible for the Industrial School for Negro Boys at Boley, Oklahoma, which is known today as the John Lilley Correctional Center. The Club Women of Oklahoma recognized her by appointing her to the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. For her outstanding services for the betterment of mankind, she was inducted into Oklahoma’s “Hall of Fame” by the Oklahoma Memorial Association on Statehood Day (November 16) in 1937.
CLARA WATERS 1927 - 1935
Clara Waters was the wife of Dr. George Waters, who was the warden of the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite from 1920-1926. She had been actively involved in her husband’s work, so much so that one year after his death she was named warden of the reformatory. This appointment made Clara Waters the first female warden in the United States to head a state prison. She also is reported to be the first female to head an all male prison. While serving as warden, she developed the educational and vocational training opportunities provided to the young offenders convicted of felonies and began the first in-house educational program at the reformatory. This program eventually evolved into the Lakeside School, the first fully accredited behind-the walls high school in the United States. Other accomplishments included a classification program to segregate the younger offenders from the older inmates. In addition, she initiated a 24-hour day medical access program at the reformatory which later became a required standard at all correctional facilities.
Dr. Spector holds undergraduate degrees in Medical Technology and Sociology, a double Masters of Science degree in Counseling and Student Personnel and a Doctorate in Education. She began her tenure with the State at the Oklahoma Department of Health in 1991 as a Manager of Disease Intervention for the HIV/STD Service. In 1996 she developed curriculum with the American Psychological Association and began teaching psychologists statewide about the medical, physical and psychological effects of HIV disease. Later she became Manager of Quality Assurance, Research and Evaluation and published numerous need assessments. Dr. Spector is not a stranger to the Department of Corrections. In 1992 she worked with DOC staff and inmates to develop the HIV Peer Education Program for Incarcerated People. During the last 15 years the program has grown to include courses in substance abuse, psychology and child development. The program offers free tuition and college credit to inmates. The peer education program has earned local and national awards and the efficacy of its intervention is published in the American Journal of Public Health, and the Journal of Health Occupations Education.
Dr. Spector serves as an adjunct faculty member at the graduate college of behavioral science at Northeastern State University and is also a Psychology staff member at Langston University and Oklahoma State University. She has facilitated focus groups for the Centers for Disease Control and for the federal substance abuse agency known as SAMHSA. She is married to Dr. Ira Spector and has two grown children.
As the Oklahoma Department of Corrections implements its vision of evidence-based practice (EBP) in its operations, we need to be sure we understand what we mean by “evidence.” We rarely justify what we do by saying (or admitting), “Well, I just felt like it” or “Never really thought about it, just the way we’ve always done it.” Too often, however, in all organizations, those and other not well-grounded reasons (like, “Just trust me, I know what I’m doing”) are exactly why we do things.
In a slow and stable environment in which our resources stay adequate, new pressures and demands don’t compete with new techniques and technology to overwhelm us, and no one is questioning whether their tax dollars are being spent on the proper things done the best way, doing things the way we always have may actually be a good enough justification. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But in a rapid and fluid environment in which our resources may be inadequate, the world is throwing new technologies and ideas around faster than anyone can reasonably keep up, and everyone and his grandmother is questioning whether their tax dollars are being spent on the proper things done the best way, we have to provide the data and information necessary to justify our existence. “If it ain’t broke, prove it.”
This is true for all public agencies, and it’s especially true for a department like ours that has seen such a large increase in its budgets and clientele over the last two decades. It is very reasonable for policymakers, taxpayers, and average citizens to want to see proof that we’re doing what we say we’re doing and we’re producing the best results possible for the level of resources we have. I bet I’m not the only person in DOC who cringes when I hear of waste and inefficiencies with my tax dollars in some other agency. Since “best results” should go up and down the line, it is very reasonable for our supervisors to want to see similar proof about our own personal area of responsibility and accountability.
When we hear demands for proof, we have to produce “evidence.” That can’t be one good case here, one good outcome there, just as any of us would refuse to be judged by one bad case or outcome. It has to be a set of cases and outcomes that can be shown statistically to be the usual result of our operations. That means we have to collect and report the data about not really what we put in and not just what we put out but also what the effect of what we’ve put out is on our units, department, communities, state, and nation. Further, the data collected and reported has to be analyzed and evaluated to make clear that we are meeting the objectives and producing the results that our stakeholders want produced.
Successful offender re-entry—the return of the offender to his/her community with no further returns of that offender to DOC—is the primary objective of everyone working at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in 2007. Successful re-entry means that we have served the people of this state by returning an offender who will no longer offend and victimize. Achievement will be proof that we deserve the level of investment made in us by those who place public safety at the top of their priorities (which is virtually everyone). In other words, we will best serve our department and its future by serving the state and its future.
How do we demonstrate all this? By emphasizing the importance of data collection, reporting, and analysis at all levels of the department so that we produce the best information possible to prove our value. By placing new importance on careful and professional program and policy evaluation that tells us where we’re doing well already and where we still need to improve at all levels.
It’s easy to get scared of data collection and reporting. We’ve all (well, I have) been hammered by some superior who used a bad result against us. At least it’s a reasonable fear that that could happen. So we may be tempted to hide and distort information, selectively giving only what makes us look good (and sometimes that has to be made up). It’s hard to give up those fears and recognize the value and importance of showing what we do, making changes when necessary, and being proud of the job that we can demonstrate.
But we have to overcome those fears. Too many other sources of data are out there about what we do or should be doing these days for us to think we can hide from or avoid the growing number of authoritative observers. If a case is going to be made about DOC performance, it should be by us based on data and information, on evidence, that others may challenge but can’t refute. And, if they can refute it, we need to acknowledge and improve what we do. When policymakers, taxpayers, and average citizens come to believe that DOC has reliable evidence that proves it performs well, the department as well as the state will be the winners.
So, over the next few issues, we’ll talk about some of the things you should consider when you’re a part of or overseeing data collection, reporting, and analysis or just translating the results into practice. We’ll go over different techniques and considerations. I’ll try to make the whole process less threatening and confusing, and, if I fail, I’ll expect you to give me evidence of that. And, hopefully, when we’re done, you’ll not only understand the importance and use of evidence in evidence-based practice. You’ll be a proud practitioner benefiting from the whole exercise.
You can thank me later.
By Gene Curtis
Reprinted by permission (12/6/06)
The inmates at the Oklahoma Reformatory in Granite were “my boys” to Warden Clara Waters, the first woman in America to head a prison for males.
She was known as “Mother Waters” by the prisoners.
Waters was warden at the reformatory for nine years after being appointed
by Gov. Henry S. Johnston in 1927, when she was 37.
When Johnston sent her name to the Senate for confirmation, there was widespread lifting of political eyebrows. Senators gulped in amazement but confirmed the appointment.
She brought five years of experience with her --- gained from helping her
husband, Dr. George Waters, in that job earlier.
“I shall endeavor to do for these boys what should have been done for them when they were children,” she promised.
She required all convicts, hard-boiled and errant youngsters alike, to attend Sunday church services. She organized Bible classes, literary societies, set up a recreation program and an education program to teach each inmate a trade.
Whatever convicts might have thought of petticoat rule, they found her an iron disciplinarian, just as her husband had been before her. She considered “rigid discipline an essential to reformation.”
“I enjoyed that work more than anything else I have ever done,” Waters told a World reporter in 1976, when she was living in a nursing home in Stillwater.
Waters’ association with the reformatory began in 1920 when her husband was appointed warden by Gov. J. B. A. Robertson. Waters was a dentist and farmer from Pawnee who brought modern methods of reformatory work to the institution that previously had been considered just another prison.
At Waters’ request, Robertson directed that the institution should house only prisoners under the age of 23 who had never been incarcerated before and who were not sentenced to terms of more than 10 years. Waters also assigned every inmate to a job, teaching them trades they could use after their terms were finished.
Assisting her husband, Waters established a library and a school that all inmates who had not completed the eighth grade were required to attend; an action that was unprecedented in those days but one that was viewed as a progressive step in prison reform. When Dr. Waters died in 1926, “her boys” and prison employees asked her to assume the warden’s job, but Gov. Martin Trapp didn’t consider the warden’s post a proper job for a woman.
A year later, Waters was appointed by Johnston, who bucked the political prejudice against women and the advice of his advisers --- and drew harsh criticism for the action. She reinstituted her husband’s methods.
“When I first went down there, they had been having escapes and other problems, and I think the boys resented having a woman as warden but when I left they were calling me ‘Mother Waters,’” she said during the 1976 interview. She said she came to realize that “most of the boys were there because the kind of parents they had. The parents didn’t educate them and they didn’t respect the law.” She said she tried to make prison life as normal as possible and set down some rules that everyone was required to follow.
Waters lasted through the short term of Gov. William Holloway, who succeeded Johnston when he was impeached, and through Gov. William H. (Alfalfa Bill) Murray’s term, although she said she lived month-to-month under the threat of being fired from the $250/month post. She said she met with Murray frequently and always had a letter of resignation with her in case he brought up his familiar threat. At the end of their meetings, Murray frequently told her “well, you can stay for another month.”
She was fired in 1935 by Gov. E.W. Marland two days after a guard was killed during an escape by 32 convicts. The prison break came in the wake of investigations by the State Board of Affairs and by State Commissioner of Charities and Corrections Mabel Bassett. During the investigations that grew out of a prisoner who claimed his arms were broken while at the reformatory, 519 of “her boys” signed a petition supporting Waters. “We feel it is our duty to uphold our institution and our warden against unfair or unjust accusations,” the petition said. Many prisoners also testified on her behalf at a hearing.
But Board of Affairs Chairman Lea M. Nichols told Marland that “I went down there (to Granite) with the preconceived idea that it was no place for a woman, and I feel that way even more strongly now.” Waters also was active in Democratic politics and after being fired as warden became State Vice Chairman of the Democratic Party and later Director of the women’s program of the National Youth Administration.
Project MEND (Mothers Encouraging and Nurturing their Daughters), the first Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program in Oklahoma, has a focus. That focus is connecting young girls to their mothers who are incarcerated. Project MEND, started by Girl Scouts of the USA and Girl Scouts of Magic Empire Council in Tulsa, Oklahoma, began its GSBB program in May of 2003 through a Department of Justice grant. Project MEND has successfully operated a GSBB program for the past three years at Turley Correctional Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is proud to announce that it has been successfully operating at Hillside Community Corrections Center since April 2006.
To ensure better outcomes, the program has expanded into two correctional facilities, Hillside Community Corrections Center and Eddie Warrior Correctional Center. The expansion has provided the mothers and daughters opportunity to take advantage of the program immediately upon the mother entering the minimum security facility, and when she is transferred to a community security facility, she and her daughter are able to continue with the program. One of the benefits to this program is that the mother and daughter are able to continue with Girl Scouts as long as they desire, even after being released. Project MEND has young girls and mothers who joined the program in 2003 who are still involved!
Project MEND adheres closely to traditional Girl Scouting by providing arts and crafts, camping, leadership skills and Girl Scout ceremonies. But Project MEND also provides life skill training such as parenting workshops, twelve-step programs, and drug prevention programs for its participants.
Saturday August 12, 2006, was not just another Saturday for seven (7) women from Hillside Community Corrections Center, two (2) women from Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center, and two (2) recently released women. This was going to be an extra special day. A very unique event that would feature such activities as arts and crafts, games, lunch and a touching ceremony were about to unfold. The first of its kind, Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Wide Games took place at the Mt Carmel Baptist Church. This first time event was planned by the mothers.
After a morning filled with lots of hugs, laughter and bonding the mothers and their daughters sat down for lunch together. After lunch it was time for more hugs, laughter and bonding. The final hours of the event focused on the mothers and daughters lining up together to receive their pins and to officially become Girl Scouts from Troop #724. Project MEND has proven to be a very fulfilling program for the women and their daughters, allowing them to spend some true quality time together completing difficult exercises that for some opened up old hurtful wounds. The day was a huge success and ended with more hugs and laughter, but also some tears as the women loaded their vans and the daughters loaded their vans and drove away in different directions.
Is this how you would describe your first hour, day, or week on the job
as a brand-spanking new, right-off-the-street correctional employee? How
did you see, hear, smell, feel, and perceive your new environment? Did it
cause you to question your decision to make corrections your chosen career
field? If so… join the club.
While at the training academy, new employees often discuss their early impressions about working in corrections and frequently admit to having had those second thoughts. In conversing, both in and outside of the classroom, employees said that they stick it out because of financial obligations and the support received on the job. They typically explain that someone has taken the initiative to help them through those confusing early days.
When a new employee lacks support, academy staff can often predict that he/she will not be with the agency much longer. There are those who quit even before making it through pre-service training.
Corrections is a very challenging career field. New employees have to rethink fundamental beliefs, learn a new language, develop a new set of skills, and figure out how they fit into this new complex, social, and paramilitary system. Experts tell us that there is a strong correlation between retention of new employees and early impressions, perceived abilities to perform as expected, and quality of support received from supervisors and co-workers. Accordingly, current corrections employees are here today because someone took an early interest in them, reassured them that they were up to the challenge; that they were capable of doing what was required. Someone said to them, “Hang in there. You’re doing okay. We need you!”
No one makes the transition from the outside to inside the world of corrections on his or her own. For every two-year “veteran,” there are employees who have extended themselves to encourage, reassure, support, and instill confidence. They are the faces of co-workers, supervisors, managers, trainers, … friends. They are our heroes. They are you.
Tapping into this wealth within the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, pre-service training has taken on a new face called blended learning. It is often described as a process that blends the use of distance learning technologies with more traditional classroom approaches. However, ETDC has incorporated additional unique aspects to blended learning, such as; on-site reinforcement, encouragement, modeling, and guided-on-the-job practice. This blended learning incorporates both methodologies and is, therefore, much less expensive than classroom training and more effective than computer-based training.
Phase I: At the Employee’s Job Site
Under the new ODOC model, students learn their roles on-the-job. There are 24-37 self-paced lessons included in Phase I. In addition to pre and post-tests, the new employees’ learning efforts are supported by peer-mentoring and supervisor-coaching. These programmatic features provide context for application of the newly learned information and skills and afford supervisor with an early opportunity to emphasize critical information and set performance standards.
Phase II: At the Employee Training and Development Center
Phase II pre-service students come to the academy for 1 or 2 weeks as opposed to the previous 2 or 4 weeks. Phase I learning is fortified by guided learning activities where students spend a majority of their time working in groups, applying new knowledge and skills. As well as expecting total group output, emphasis is placed on each member’s contribution to the work product in a way that is satisfactory to the other group members and compliant with the Operations Procedures, Mission, Vision and Values of our agency.
Clang! Bang! Dang? Not anymore. It’s blended learning: New face. New journey. New destination. Hop aboard. We know you will enjoy the ride.
Like anything else, you will get out of this process exactly what you put into it. Following the prescribed procedure, many positive outcomes are possible. Here are a few identified by the research and the customers who played roles in the neeeds assessment process:
• Reduces training costs per student
• Increases time at the facility/decreases time at the academy
• Allows for less time away from the family during a critical transition period
• Accelerates learning of critical information and skills
• Magnifies agency values and priorities
• Builds confidence and momentum for accelerated proficiency
• Improves safety, security performances and overall compliance with OP's and supervisor's expectations
• Heightens the feeling of being a valued member of an important team
• Promotes positive impact on morale, recruitment, and retention agency-wide
Without a shadow of doubt, women have made many accomplishments in the State
of Oklahoma. From competing in rodeo competitions in McAlester, to graduating
from college or specialized electrical classes, attending self improvement
courses, giving birth, working in the community, reuniting with family, celebrating
a special event, bonding with peers, or facing personal crisis, women continue
to be a significant entity in the state. Yes, this article is about women,
specifically women offenders in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of
My personal friends, family members, former co-workers, next door neighbors, classmates, church members and acquaintances are among the historic numbers of women impacted by the criminal justice system. The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 2005 Bulletin reported the incarceration rate for Oklahoma is 129 women per every 100,000 of Oklahoma women residents. As of December 26, 2006, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Count Sheet reported 2,249 women were incarcerated in Oklahoma.
Many of these women are mothers or grandmothers. Data from the Evaluation and Analysis Unit in November 2006, indicates 59.87% of all women listed a family member (son or daughter) as their primary contact person. Angel Tree Ministry in Oklahoma served over 1,900 children in 2004 whose mothers were incarcerated or in a substance abuse program. The majority of these women are convicted of non-violent crimes. For the sake of the children alternatives to incarceration must be utilized.
Each year, DOC medical units monitor female inmates’ pregnancies and births. During FY 2006, there were 44 births to inmates at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center (MBCC). Women offenders also receive health care outside of the agency. During FY 2006, there were 255 specialty care visits to the Breast Care Center, 90 visits to the Breast Institute, and 263 gynecological visits. Overall, there were 2,348 specialty care visits from MBCC, Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (EWCC), Turley Correctional Center (TCC) and Hillside Community Corrections Center (HCCC).
In addition to providing medical care, MBCC, EWCC, TCC and HCCC provide mental health services for female offenders. For FY 2006, a monthly average of 829 inmates received psychotropic medications.
Two historic legislative measures offered insight into Oklahoma’s growing rate of imprisonment of women. The Special Task Force for Women Incarcerated in Oklahoma was created by Senate Bill 810 in the 2003 legislative session. The mission of the task force is to determine the causes of Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate. Recommendations were offered to enhance treatment for offenders addicted to drugs and alcohol, expansion of drug courts as an alternative to incarceration, state funding for expansion and establishment of long-term out-patient, and residential intensive treatment placements for women and their children throughout the state.
Secondly, the Oklahoma Study of Incarcerated Women and Their Children per Senate Joint Resolution 48 in the 2004 Legislative Session, directed the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth to take the lead and work with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Human Services, and the Department of Corrections, to study the living conditions of children of incarcerated women. A survey was conducted and findings reported in a three phase process available at www.okkids.org.
Recommendations that will help break the destructive cycles and restore opportunities for children to live healthy and productive lives are included in the SJR48 document. The task force also believes that the recommendations which include mentoring, will reduce the trauma children suffer as a result of the incarceration of their mothers. Members continue to meet and propose ideas to the legislature.
A new study of the living conditions of children of incarcerated women will be conducted in 2007. The Department of Corrections is also seeking legislative approval to establish a halfway house for women and children.
The activities of women offenders are documented each fiscal year by the attendees of the quarterly Female Offender Management meetings in a work summary. OP-090501 “Female Offender Management” establishes a group of staff members to address, review and offer recommendation in all programmatic and operational areas in department policies and procedure that may affect or impact female offenders.
Areas of major concern are:
1. Training of Correctional Staff
2. Sexual Misconduct and Privacy Issues
3. Parity in Work and Programs
4. Medical Issues
5. Mental Health Concerns
6. Classification and Custody Levels
7. Contract Beds
9. Community Sentencing
Joining staff in contributing to the fiscal year work summary are people from throughout the state in many walks of life. Board of Corrections members, elected officials, women offender experts, concerned citizens, former offenders, and representatives from mentoring programs that focus on the children of incarcerated parents, and grandparent advocates all provide valuable input to improve the lives of women. The FY2006 Work Summary is available on the agency website at www.doc.state.ok.us under “Publications.”
OKLAHOMA’S PROPOSED AGENCY-WIDE PLAN
At the request of Director Jones, the National Institute of Corrections granted Technical Assistance to provide “system mapping” of the female offender population. A consultant will examine major areas that impact women offender’s to include classification, policies, procedures, and practices, to include women on probation or parole. Proposed strategies include validation and revision of the female offender classification system, addressing mental health treatment, and exploring the possibility of specialized training for unit staff that work with female offenders diagnosed as mentally ill.
A policy change in the facility assignment of low-risk Community Corrections level pregnant women was recently approved. Completion of the Assessment and Reception Center for Women at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in 2007 will be another historic event.
Pathways to crime are unique for women and issues that affect women in the criminal justice system mirror issues found in society. Without a shadow of doubt, alternatives to incarceration for women must be utilized. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections continues to take an active role in confronting the challenges of women preparing to return to their communities and children through the Re-entry process.
Information from the National Institute of Corrections confirms the five
critical issues facing most women offenders and guiding principles when working
1. History of Abuse, Trauma & Violence
2. Substance Abuse
3. Economic Marginalization and Poverty
4. Race and Culture
5. Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children
These critical issues have resulted in several changes to offer gender-responsive methods of treatment and services to women. In Oklahoma specific measures have been and will continue to be considered through the legislative process, the agency female offender management group and national initiatives.
NEW AND INNOVATIVE VENTURES
• In September 2006 the United States Department of Health and Human
Services awarded 11.6 million dollars to twenty-one states to assist in the
number of children adopted from foster care. Beginning in 2006 the maximum
adoption tax credit was increased to $10,960.
• A new Federal law provides law enforcement agencies with better tools to help protect children against sex crimes and violence. Signed in July 2006 by President Bush the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 creates a National Child Abuse Registry. The bill is named after the son of John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted” television show.
• Hillside Community Corrections Center (Hillside CCC) was selected as one of the facilities to participate in the Family Justice pilot to test and develop a relational inquiry tool for women in the Community Corrections setting. The Relational Inquiry Tool will be used to complement existing assessment instruments and include social networks and the strengths of the individual offender.
• Hillside CCC and Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center both implemented the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program in 2006. The program recently received a national award for the successful program at the Turley Correctional Center.
• Tulsa County received funding to implement a Mental Health Court. The new court received state funding for administrative costs and for treatment.
• The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services recently hired discharge planners to assist in the re-entry efforts of male and female offenders. One of the discharge planners will be placed at MBCC.
WOMEN SPECIFIC STATISTICAL INFORMATION
FEMALE FACILITIES AND CAPACITY
Lexington A&R, Lexington, OK 39
Mabel Bassett CC, McLoud, OK 1144
Eddie Warrior CC, Taft, OK 783
Hillside CCC, OKC 250
Kate Barnard CCC, OKC 164
Turley Halfway House, Tulsa, 150
Oklahoma Halfway House, OKC 12
OPERATING COST FOR FY06 DAILY
MBCC Max/Med. Security $58.96
EWCC Min. Security $42.40
Kate Barnard Community $54.91
Hillside Comm. Corr. Ctr. $41.89
Altus Work Centers $29.90
Probation/Parole $ 2.19
This is average for men and women.
FEMALE COUNT (DEC. 26, 2006) 2249
Number on Death Row 1
FY 2006 PRISON RECEPTIONS (TOP 4)
Oklahoma County 317 26.1%
Tulsa County 254 20.9%
Comanche 59 4.9%
Rogers 32 2.6%
INMATE PROFILE FOR JUNE 2006
Average Age 37.1
CONTROLLING OFFENSES (TOP 5)
Poss/Obt. Drugs 23.3%
Distributing CDS 21.0%
Murder 1 4.7%
For several decades in the United States, the incarceration of women has increased. The 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that the rate of women imprisoned in the United States has increased at a rate nearly double the rate for men. The same study indicates that drug offenses were the largest source of growth in the number of female offenders.
Per capita, Oklahoma incarcerates more women than any other state in the nation. Considering that the United States incarcerates more women than the rest of the world, Oklahoma is number one in the world in the incarceration of women. In Oklahoma, as in the rest of the country, the majority of convictions of women are for non violent drug offences. However, drug offences are not only limited to possession and sales of drugs. Property crimes are often committed by women addicts to obtain money to buy drugs.
Women participating in the Partnership for Reentry of Offenders Through Education and Community Treatment (PROTECT) receive individualized, holistic assistance through a federally funded grant initiative sponsored by a collaboration of the Federal Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Justice.
PROTECT seeks to fill gaps in services for eligible offenders released to Oklahoma County. To be eligible, an offender must have served at least one year in prison, be between 18 and 35 years of age, been assessed as “high risk” for re-offending and volunteer for the project. Risk is assessed by considering sub-groups such as alcohol and drug use, education and employment, criminal history, finance, companions and attitudes.
Transition workers from community agencies in Oklahoma County are funded through the grant to begin working with offenders prior to release and assist with their transition to the community. The transition workers continue to assist their clients until they are self-sufficient. The primary goal is that the participants do not return to prison within three years.
The Department of Corrections refers eligible offenders to the transition workers who help the offender find employment/housing and pursue education/training. They also assist with bus passes to travel to appointments and make contact with other participating state and local agencies to receive services. Both men and women may volunteer for PROTECT.
The female PROTECT participants reenter society with problems specific to their gender. While all ex-offenders face issues with a lack of transportation, housing and lack of education and job skills, women are more often limited to low-level jobs without even the opportunities of men to obtain instant employment as a day laborer. Women are also more often single parents trying to regain custody of their children.
One of the women participating in PROTECT has been working since her release to regain custody of her children. The two older children are with one in-law in another part of the state, and the youngest child is with another in-law in the same area. The Department of Human Services (DHS) awarded temporary custody to those family members during the woman’s incarceration. The woman’s ex-husband is in a federal prison in another state.
The woman had no trouble regaining custody from the in-law who was caring for the youngest child; however, the in-laws caring for the two older children do not wish to give up custody. The woman took the in-laws to court, and is now attending counseling and working with the children in a neutral setting in order that they can know her better before she regains custody.
The woman’s transition worker states that she is doing well despite her many bad decisions. She has a job as a telemarketer and is living in a house with her child and a new boyfriend. She went through drug treatment while she was incarcerated and now attends Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous (AA/NA) meetings.
Another woman participating in PROTECT volunteered at approximately the same time that her boyfriend, who was also in prison, volunteered. It was their plan to live together after their releases and help each other stay away from drugs. She had been through drug treatment while in prison. She was assigned to one transition worker and the man was assigned to another transition worker. They worked together to try to convince their clients that their plan to live together could be a bad one.
The woman was released first, and by the time the man released, she was fully involved again with drugs. He eventually began using again, was arrested and sent back to prison. Before she was re-arrested, she was able to get into a long-term community drug treatment program.
Control over chemical addiction must be achieved before PROTECT clients can move forward. Unfortunately there are often many setbacks before sobriety is finally achieved. Aftercare, such as NA and AA, is also very important so that when the barriers and realities of their lives arise, they are not as likely to return to chemical abuse as a solution.
The women participating in PROTECT tend to follow the stereotypes of all women offenders. Their backgrounds often reveal that they have run away from home at an early age to escape sexual and physical abuse. Almost all of the women are victims of abusive and exploitative relationships, and their abuse is likely to have a correlation with drugs and alcohol. Most, also have minor children.
Women offenders are more likely than men to experience co-occurring mental health problems and chemical dependency. Addressing these issues together usually has better results. Often it is impossible to separate whether the abuse resulted in the chemical abuse or if the chemical abuse resulted in abuse.
The women’s lives are more centered on relationships than are men’s lives, and a woman’s pathway to criminal behavior is usually through relationships. Women are more likely to commit a crime with a male partner.
It may be that the best pathway to recovery and self-reliance is also through relationships, such as the positive professional relationship that a woman offender has with a transition worker. More so than the men, most of the women involved in PROTECT have adjusted well in the project, and have not returned to prison.