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OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec 13, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Oklahoma has the highest per capita female prisoner population in the United States at 129 per 100,000 women, double the national average, a report said.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Montana were the only other states that had per capita female prisoner rates of 100 or more per 100,000 women in 2004, state issue Web site Stateline.org reported.
Nationwide, 105,000 women were in U.S. prisons last year, accounting for a record 7 percent of total prisoners, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center Director K.C. Moon said the Sooner State deals with low-level crime more harshly than other states and spends much less on social programs.
"Other states are often more lenient with female offenders vs. male offenders," said a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin. "Oklahoma is less inclined to consider gender in prosecuting individuals."
The rising female inmate population points to the need for greater women-specific social spending, education programs such as computer classes and finding new ways to keep imprisoned mothers in touch with their children, watchdog organizations said.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International