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Inmate running a lathe

Why Felony Employment Matters Even if You've Never Been to Prison

Background

Map: Joe Wertz / Source: U.S. Department of Corrections

Click here to explore an interactive map of state incarceration.

More than 25,000 people were incarcerated at state prisons in 2011, data from the Department of Corrections show. Each inmate costs Oklahoma taxpayers about $20,000 per year, and Oklahoma leads most of the country in per capita incarceration.

About 8,000 offenders are released from Oklahoma prisons each year. And employment is one of the best ways to increase the odds that they’ll stay out of prison, corrections officials and and criminologists say.

Inmates receive education from Corrections staffers and jobs training from CareerTech instructors at prison Skills Centers.

Both have suffered from state budget cuts, which have reduced teaching staff, eliminated entire training programs, and resulted in fewer inmates receiving education and job training.

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Inmate running a lathe

Oklahoma imprisons more people per-capita than almost every other state in the nation. We lead the pack when it comes to incarcerating women, and the state spends a lot of taxpayer money on prisons — more than state cops and courts combined. About 8,000 people leave state prisons every year, and a big part of [...]

Jobs for Felons: Why it Matters, Even if You’ve Never Been Locked Up

An inmate uses a lathe to machine a trailer part at the Skills Center inside McCleod Correctional Center near Atoka, Okla..

Confinement is only part of the mission at Oklahoma prisons. More than 25,000 people were incarcerated at state prisons last year, data from the Department of Corrections show. Most of those people will be released one day. Felons vow to never return. Officers and taxpayers — who are on the hook for $20,000 per inmate every [...]

Female Felons in Oklahoma Face Unique Employment Challenges

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Oklahoma’s rate of female incarceration is about twice the national average. The state has held on to its number one spot in that category for most of the past two decades. It’s a distinction prison officials would rather not have, but isn’t easy to change. And there are unique challenges faced by women behind bars [...]

Locked Up But Looking Ahead: Employment After Prison in Oklahoma

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Being tough on crime is expensive. It costs Oklahoma taxpayers about $20,000 a year to pay for the housing of each inmate in the state’s overcrowded prison system, Department of Corrections data show. But being tough on crime can also mean giving criminals a chance at having a life on the outside.

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