Originally published by Tulsa World
By Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar
With Oklahoma prisons at 119 percent capacity, mass incarceration is a serious issue. Oklahoma’s overall incarceration rate is the second highest in the U.S. and our incarceration rate for women is the highest in the nation.
According to a 2013 U.S. Department of Justice study, Oklahoma saw a 2.5 percent increase in its prison population since 2011. As Oklahoma experiences a record $1.2 billion budget shortfall, reform is urgent. Mass incarceration and long sentences for low-level, nonviolent crimes tear families apart and prevent incarcerated individuals from having a fair opportunity to re-enter society.
We must break this cycle of injustice and rebuild our system to provide aid and guidance for incarcerated individuals to have access to education, employment and mental and physical rehabilitation.
All Souls Unitarian Church Tulsa addresses the needs of Tulsa’s at-risk youth, felons, ex-felons, and their families. The All Souls Criminal Justice Outreach Team seeks to care for those impacted by incarceration, to educate the community about criminal justice issues, and to cultivate equitable reforms.