Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sept 3 - Come to State Capitol to Discuss Women Incarcerated


Meeting to Address Female Incarceration, Re-Entry and Expungement

Sen. Constance N. Johnson announced on Friday that legislators, Department of Corrections (DOC) officials, members of community-based organizations and the public will meet in the Senate Chamber on Thursday, Sept. 3, for a discussion on the impact of the state’s high incarceration rates.

Johnson said there is an immediate need for the state to begin addressing this issue with a comprehensive plan, as Oklahoma currently incarcerates more women per capita than any other state, and is the third highest incarcerator of both men and women per capita. In 2009, the state spent $503 million on corrections costs, including an additional $24 million in emergency supplemental funding to cover increasing offender growth and operating costs.

“We can no longer set this issue aside while the cost of our high incarceration rates continues to take a toll on our state, our communities and our families,” said Johnson, D-Oklahoma City . “In order for us to correct this problem, we must examine the causes that lead to incarceration and methods to reduce recidivism and ensure successful re-entry. By doing so, Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to be on the cutting edge in developing a comprehensive plan to address the impact of incarceration on our communities.”

According to statistics from the Department of Corrections, Oklahoma ’s incarceration rate ranks first nationally for females and fourth for males. Of the 25,120 prisoners currently in Oklahoma correctional facilities, 2,587 are women. Of those women, 77 percent are non-violent offenders. Johnson noted that since 1986, the Department of Corrections (DOC) budget has grown 250 percent, more than twice the rate of increase for education spending.

"We want to be tough on crimes that warrant a tough response, but we must be “smart on crime” when dealing with non-violent offenders who, with comprehensive rehabilitation and education, can be fairly punished and then return to society to be productive taxpaying citizens. Through a collaborative effort between legislative leaders, state agencies, mental health advocacy groups and community-based service organizations, I’m confident we can develop a smarter plan to reduce our overall prison population while keeping violent offenders off the streets,” Johnson said. “It’s time for us to finally acknowledge this issue as a pressing legislative and social concern and begin addressing it accordingly.”

“It’s time to develop a system that works both fairly and equitably, while reducing our economically unsustainable prison population.”

The group will meet from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. in the Senate Chamber on Sept. 3. The meeting will be open to members of the public.

Friday, August 28, 2009

OKC YWCA Women's Equality Day = Great Success!

On August 24th, the YWCA hosted its Inaugural Women's Equality Day Celebration which was a huge success! A panel of local women leaders discussed women's equality in our state and the future of the women's movement, followed by an networking reception. Plans are already underway for next year's event! >Learn more about Women's Equality Day and see pictures here!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Attorney Karen Long of Tulsa appointed today to OK Ethics Commission

Tulsa attorney Karen Long was appointed by House Speaker Chris Benge to the State Ethics Commission today. She replaces Commissioner Don Bingham whose term expired.

“Karen Long has a strong, diverse legal background that is coupled with a familiarity with the legislative process that makes her an ideal selection to serve in this vital position,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “Her experience gives her a unique base of knowledge that will serve her well in this new role.”

Long is a partner with Rosenstein, Fist and Ringold. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Christopher Newport College of the College of William & Mary, and a J.D. degree from Oklahoma City University. Her practice emphasizes collective bargaining, labor, employment discrim­ination, education law and federal and state court litigation involving those areas.

She is a member of the Tulsa County Bar Asso­ciation, Oklahoma Bar Association, American Bar Association, National School Boards Association, and Council Oaks / Johnson-Sontag Chapter of the American Inns of Court. In 2002, Long was nominated for and elected to membership in the Fellows of the Oklahoma and American Bar Foundations. She has been honored as an Oklahoma Best Lawyer for the past eleven years, and has been recognized as an Oklahoma Superlawyer and one of the top 25 Oklahoma women lawyers since 2006.

In 2008, she received the John Athens Award from the Council Oak/Johnson-Sontag Inn in recognition of her work in Oklahoma’s Title IX litigation related to girls’ and boys’ sports. In addition, Long serves as the 2009-2010 President of the Council Oak/Johnson-Sontag Inns of Court.

She is a member and past President of the Oklahoma School Board Attorneys’ Association. She has served as one of three members of the Public Employees Relations Board, which is the Oklahoma state board respon­sible for resolving collective bargaining disputes between police and fire personnel and their municipal employers.

From 1979-1989, she served as the General Counsel of the Oklahoma Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. She serves as a speaker regarding a range of legal issues including employee termination, sexual harassment, an employer's response to discrimination, family and medical leave, employer decisions involving employees with disabilities, religion and schools, Title IX and gender discrimination in school sponsored sports, and other issues.

Since 1999 she has served as an Adjunct Settlement Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. In addition, Long serves as a lawyer with Tulsa Lawyers for Children, a non-profit organization that provides no-cost legal representation to children who have been identified by the court system as deprived and neglected. Her five-year appointment to the Ethics Commission begins Monday.

Source. Press Secretary, Oklahoma House of Representatives

Thursday, August 13, 2009

~ Empower women thru Suited For Success

Do you know about Suited For Success? This wonderful program provides professional clothing and career development services to low-income women who have completed a job training or job readiness program and are actively seeking employment. Clients are referred by a number of social service agencies and job readiness programs. They range in age from 18 to 65 and many are entering the job market for the very first time. 95% are single mothers. Many have been abused and many come from area shelters. The program also serves women coming out of the criminal justice system. Almost all of their clients report incomes of less than $10,000. Suited For Success is the only organization in central Oklahoma that provides these services and the services are available to clients at no charge.

How do they do it? On the 3rd Friday of each month from 9:00am until 4:00pm, area women donate new and gently worn clothing and accessories. All items arrive on hangers, clean and pressed because many clients go directly from Suited for Success to job interviews. You can also support the program by making a financial donation. Founded in 1997, Suited for Success is located at 4141 Highline Blvd in Oklahoma City. Susan Walton is founder and director of the nonprofit. Read more about Suited for Success HERE.

Susan Walton is a really remarkable woman. She started planning Suited for Success in the early 1990s but her plans were delayed when she was nearly killed in the Murrah Building bombing in April of 1995. You can read about Susan HERE and also HERE.

Monday, August 03, 2009

RIP Vivian Smith - aging advocate extraordinaire

Vivian Smith, a great Oklahoma woman, passed away on July 27, 2009. I hope you will pause a moment to read her obituary and remember her. By the time I knew her, Vivian Smith was a master advocate on behalf of Oklahoma's seniors. Almost 30 years ago, she was among a group of Oklahomans who organized the Oklahoma Alliance on Aging. But she did so much more than that for Oklahoma. She will be greatly missed.

~ Oklahoman Allison Bailey has a new blog+website at Allioppe

Allison Bailey has a new website that also includes a blog. You can view it all at The website and blog offer area shoppers lots of good tips on where to find good boutiques and interesting products. Allison welcomes ideas and suggestions just send them to

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Gloria Trotter Inducted as President of the OK Press Association

Yippee - Gloria Trotter (co-publisher of The Countywide & Sun in Tecumseh) assumed the presidency of the Oklahoma Press Association on July 1, 2009. Read more here. (Image is from the OPA website)