As states across the country are dealing with a budget crisis, some in Oklahoma are pointing to what has become a financial nightmare: the rate of female incarceration. Oklahoma puts more women behind bars than any other state. And at the annual cost of $15,000 per inmate, incarceration has become a top budgetary concern.
But now a new philanthropic program is working with the courts and legal system to keep women charged for nonviolent offenses – about 67 percent of all female inmates – out of the prison system. The Women in Recovery program began in 2010 and is funded by the George Kaiser Foundation.
We talk with Amy Santee, a senior program officer with the George Kaiser Family Foundation; and Melissa Pruett, a current participant in the program, explains her success thus far with the program. Pruett was arrested in March 2010 for manufacturing drugs.