Oklahoma’s Incarceration Rates Stand out Internationally

It was astounding to discover that Oklahoma is rated number one in the nation for incarcerating women, about 151 out of every 100,000 women, which is double the national average. Nearly 80% of Oklahoma’s incarcerated women are non-violent offenders and their presence in Oklahoma correctional facilities is largely attributable to drug abuse, distribution of controlled substances, prostitution, or property crimes. Black women were more likely than white women to receive sentences of five or more years, regardless of the offense or prior legal history.  On the other hand, white women were more likely to receive deferred sentences. The United States leads the developed world in incarcerating its own citizens.

I never thought of working in a correctional facility. Perhaps, this was because the prisoner population was never mentioned in my nursing program, or perhaps because I was looking at the nursing profession from a limited point of view. I stumbled upon a vacant position on the internet seeking a nurse to work in a correctional facility. When I applied for the position, I was very nervous and thought long and hard about going to the interview. There were many thoughts which flooded my mind about working in a correctional facility. For example, I thought it must be a highly stressfully job seeing people with little freedom and control over their lives. I imagined working in an aggressive environment which would cause repercussions on the minds and bodies of employees. I researched the correctional facilities with diligence. One article which stood out reported only 20% of nurses who participated in the study remained employed at the study facility over a three-year period (Chafin & Biddle, 2013). Further, nurses mainly leave because of insufficient pay, inadequate time with the patient, and improper treatment from physicians in the prison.

I went to the interview and was hired. Since then I have had the opportunity of providing nursing care to both males and females in minimum to low-security settings. Next week I will discuss what I uncovered working in a correctional facility in the State of Oklahoma.


Chafin, S., & Biddle, W. (2013). Nurse Retention in a Correctional Facility: A Study of the Relationship Between the Nurses’ Perceived Barriers and Benefits. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 19(2), 124-134.doi: 10.1177/1078345812474643

Wagner, P., & Sawyer, Wendy. (2018) States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2018 https://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/2018.html




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