Many Oklahomans believe the state locks up too many women and think it is because of a lack of adequate alternative programs, a recent Oklahoma Poll found.
With Oklahoma No. 1 in the female incarceration rate, most residents say the state’s current stance on crime and punishment is not making them safer.
Tulsa County District Judge Rebecca Nightingale said the results are encouraging because residents are seeing how tougher sentences aren’t reducing crime.
“The hope for me as a judge and former prosecutor is that there is some public recognition about changing the high crime statistics through programs rather than tougher sentences,” Nightingale said. “Tougher sentences have not led to a reduction in crime. Tougher sentences have led to more warehousing of prisoners. When the public recognizes the need for change, the legislators are hopefully soon to follow.”
Historically, public policy and research focused only on the experience of incarcerated men, said Juanita Ortiz, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois-Springfield, who also completed her doctorate degree at the University of Oklahoma studying female recidivism rates.