While children's safety must be protected, Oklahoma's highly punitive and overly broad child abuse and neglect statute often does the opposite. By criminalizing survivors of domestic violence and mothers living in poverty—sometimes with little to no evidence of actual wrongdoing—the statute deters reporting, separates families, isolates them from much-needed help, and places children at even greater risk of abuse and neglect.
Our new report shows how Oklahoma’s criminal justice reform story continues to be written. The improvements that have been made to the criminal justice system in the last five years show that progress is possible, but more work remains to strengthen Oklahoma’s economy, communities, and families.
More Work to Do
Oklahoma voters, Republican Governors Mary Fallin and Kevin Stitt, and state legislative leaders have taken the first steps, but more work remains. Even after five years of progress, Oklahoma has the third highest imprisonment rate overall and the second-highest women’s imprisonment rate. Oklahoma can continue to safely reduce Oklahoma’s incarceration rate and strengthen its economy, communities, and families.
Felony Records and Long Sentences Hurt the Economy
Oklahoma’s criminal justice system has constricted the state’s economic growth by removing people from the workforce, subjecting them to harsh sentences, and then imposing significant barriers to their return to work.
Incarceration Doesn’t Make Oklahoma Communities Safer
Oklahoma’s criminal justice system should be focused on keeping communities safe, but instead at every stage of the system, it fails to rehabilitate, protect survivors, or strengthen community ties.
Families Pay the Price
The impact of incarceration extends beyond the person locked behind bars. Oklahoma’s punitive approach to criminal justice and harsh reliance on incarceration is separating families and harming Oklahoma’s children.
According to a new poll out of Oklahoma, 73% of registered voters, including 64% of Republican voters believe it is important to reduce the number of people incarcerated. This poll demonstrates that voters in Oklahoma overwhelmingly want elected leaders to continue taking bold action to safely reduce the jail and prison populations. Download the full poll findings below and learn more about the impactful criminal justice reform policies an overwhelming majority of Oklahoma voters support.