MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 13, 2014

Officials recommend prison programs

Attending programs in prison often improves the success rate for individuals after prison, said Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore.

“A lot of these women and men have really been successful in turning their lives around by taking advantage of these programs,” Moore said.

The recidivism rate decreases for women and men involved in programs in prison, and they are more successful when they are released, compared with individuals who just have “flat time” and don’t participate in programs, he said.

Prisons have multiple programs available for inmates, he said.

A lot of times, those who just serve their time “are still in the same frame of mind. We always encourage them to participate in  the programs available,” he said.

Helping Women Recover programs are only available in two Oklahoma Department of Corrections facilities, but there are others in  several other states and other countries.

Helping Women Recover has been implemented in more than 1,100 criminal justice programs, and more than 29,000 women have been involved in the programs.

Based on the most recent data, cost for materials for the program is $26.95 for each participant, so the cost is minimal. Funds for the program to be administered are provided not by the state, but by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a charitable organization based in Tulsa. Judith Beck, program director and therapist for the past three years, is employed by the foundation and has more than 20 years experience. At the prison, she is considered a volunteer, she said.

The program focuses around four domains — self, relationship/support systems, sexuality and spirituality, the website states.

Approximately 400 female offenders have completed the program at Eddie Warrior, according to the Department of Corrections website. The DOC is in the process of compiling statistics regarding the success of the program, Beck said.

Although the district attorney’s office and defense attorneys are usually the ones who decide if inmates should attend programs while in prison or instead of incarceration, District Judge Mike Norman said he is usually in favor of the programs.

“As far as I’m concerned, they are all good,” he said. “I am in favor of any program that helps.”

Several other programs are offered at Eddie Warrior. They include: numerous education programs, Life Skills, Regimented Treatment Program, HIV/AIDs Peer Education, Play Day, Early Childhood Development classes, Keys to Life, and Living Longer, Living Stronger. Also, Mental Health Services provides Anger Management and Seeking Safety groups for co-occurring mental health and substance use prevention.

Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or areding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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