Poverty, unwed and teen motherhood, sexual and physical abuse, drug use, and other social factors combine to help produce the highest per-capita incarceration rate of women in the U.S. In Oklahoma, researchers tell The Oklahoman. There are 135 imprisoned Oklahoma women per 100,000 population, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The national average is 67.
“We’re one of the poorest states, we have one the highest teen pregnancy rates, we have a high child abuse rate and all of that together — probably the abuse more than anything — leads to drug use,” said Susan Sharp of the University of Oklahoma, editor of the book “The Incarcerated Woman.” She adds: “The rest of the story, however, is that we lock up people for crimes that other states would not put them in prison for. So, it’s also our laws and our application of our laws.”