Oklahoma Watch: “Oklahoma laws foster incarceration rates”

Oklahoma imprisons more women in prison “than any other place on the globe,” according to a recent story by Barbara Palmer on Oklahoma Watch.

The story quotes a number of criminologists, including Dr. Chesney-Lind. As the story notes, she was born in Woodward, Oklahoma, although her family moved from the state after a major tornado destroyed the town where they were living.

From the story:

Some charge that it is the criminal code—including changes made over the last two decades as a result of the national War on Drugs—that ultimately is driving the female incarceration rate.

“Most of what has happened in the growth of women’s imprisonment [nationally] is around the drug war, Woodward native Meda Chesney-Lind, a professor of women’s studies at the University of Hawaii and one of the nation’s foremost experts on women and crime, said. “When you start rewriting your laws so that you criminalize women who have relationships with people who are drug dealers, or when you just ratchet up sentences dramatically for very small amounts of illicit substances,” huge increases in prison populations are the result.

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