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Celebrating Oklahoma’s fair chance women trailblazers

Oklahoma’s criminal justice reform measures are working, and our state’s women and workforce are benefitting from them. More low-level, nonviolent women offenders are receiving diversion and intervention services from Oklahoma’s expanding network of rehabilitation programs instead of spending time behind bars which allows them to continue making invaluable contributions to our communities and economy.

Headshot of Amanda Austin

As the number of women incarcerated in the Oklahoma County Detention Center continues to decline due to their entry into diversion and intervention services, the results are especially impactful to the families in our county and state. The Prison Policy Initiative found that 80% of women in jails, and over half of all women in U.S. prisons, are mothers and their children’s primary caretakers. The majority of these women are incarcerated for non-violent offenses and remain locked up due to an inability to pay bail. Preventing the over-incarceration of women in our communities results in healthier families and a more prosperous economy.

ReMerge of Oklahoma County is a pre-trial diversion program that serves high-risk, high-needs mothers facing non-violent felony offenses in Oklahoma County. Since 2011, 193 women have graduated from ReMerge’s diversion program, impacting 474 children and saving the state of Oklahoma at least $47 million. Part of ReMerge’s pre-trial diversion initiative is its Pathway Program which offers participants career training and educational opportunities tailored to specific industries.

Read the full opinion editorial by clicking here.


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