Substance abuse cited for Oklahoma's high female prison rate

Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State corrections officials say untreated substance abuse problems and mental health among the reasons for Oklahoma's high incarceration rate for women.

Corrections officials spoke Wednesday at the state Capitol during a daylong study of female incarceration requested by state Sen. Wayne Shaw of Grove.

Officials say the state leads the nation in the rate of female incarceration with a rate is 136 per 100,000 residents. The national rate is 83 per 100,000 population. As of Saturday, 3,211 women were serving Oklahoma prison sentences.

Prison officials say the vast majority of women in state prison are non-violent offenders convicted of drug offenses, and that many of them are mothers.

Shaw says he's gathering information for possible legislation on the issue, including drug and mental health diversion programs.