Program Aims To Lower Oklahoma's Female Incarceration Rate

Wednesday, February 23rd 2011, 4:24 pm
By: News 9

Gan Matthews, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of incarceration for women in the nation, but a new program aims to get women back on the right track.

Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester noticed a 67 percent increase in the number of women entering his jail between 2003 and 2009.

Now with the help of a federal grant, Lester has started a program to get those women back into the workforce. Kierston, 22, who's serving a deferred sentence for credit card and prescription drug fraud, is one of the program's first participants.

"You have to make yourself better by getting the skills and the contacts to move forward and get gainful employment," Kierston said.

Through the program, Kierston is taking courses at Rose State College and is learning how to interview and prepare resumes.

"She's doing fabulous," said program director Rock Richardson. "I think with her experience she figured out pretty early on that a career and a job was important to her."

Her 2-year old daughter is also important to Kierston. She said she never wants to be separated from her child.

Kierston also pitches in at the Sheriff's office contacting other female offenders involved in the program.