Imagine that in the next few minutes you receive a knock on your door, a phone call or email and a stranger accuses you of a crime. You know immediately the information is false, but you reel at the mere insinuation of wrongdoing on your part.
What begins as an unnerving conversation rapidly descends into a nightmarish path leading to criminal charges filed against you. Shock envelops you as you are arrested and booked into a jail cell before the day ends. “How,” you ask, “could this have happened?”
The question haunts you as you sit in prison for years. Then, one day, comes an unsuspecting query from a stranger, announcing help is on the way.
That is the simple goal behind OKJ2 – Oklahoma Journalists for Justice: to shine a spotlight on the cases of men and women wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit who are unfairly imprisoned in Oklahoma.
More Women Incarcerated
Oklahoma leads all 50 states in the nation in the rate at which it sends women to prison. Oklahoma incarcerates 134 women per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of 69 per 100,000. Texas ranks second among per capita rates with 98 women, and Colorado ranks third highest with 93.
3rd Highest Inmate Total
Oklahoma ranks third highest among all 50 states in the nation in the per capita rate of sending both men and women to prison. Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration with 506 prisoners per 100,000 population, followed by Alabama at 735. Oklahoma’s rate is 661 prisoners among every 100,000 residents of the Sooner state. In September 2013, a total of 26,757 prisoners were serving time behind bars in a correctional facility.
Many Children’s Parents Jailed
More than 26,000 Oklahoma children have a parent in an Oklahoma state prison – more than 3 percent of all minors. That doesn’t include mothers and fathers in local jails or federal prisons, which could double that number to almost 7 percent. Nationwide, one in every 28 American children (or 3.6 percent) has a parent in jail or prison.
Nation’s Top Death Penalty
Oklahoma has the highest rate of executing prisoners among all 50 states. It is followed by Texas, Delaware and Virginia. In total number of executions (not accounting for state populations) since 1976, Oklahoma ranks third highest (106 executions) behind the more populated states of Texas (505 executions) and Virginia (110). As of October 2013, Oklahoma had 55 prisoners on death row.