Oklahoma leads nation in incarceration rate - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Oklahoma leads nation in incarceration rate

According to a study from the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, Oklahoma's incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people. (Source: KTUL/CNN) According to a study from the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, Oklahoma's incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people. (Source: KTUL/CNN)

TULSA, OK (KTUL/CNN) - Oklahoma is now No. 1 for rate of incarceration, bumping Louisiana out of the top spot.

According to a study from the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, Oklahoma's incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama round out the top five states when it comes to incarceration rate.

"It's not that our people are so bad; it's just that our laws are so old." State Rep. Regina Goodwin said.

An advocate of criminal justice reform, Goodwin worked on a bill to increase the amount of money it takes to get charged for a felony for stolen property.

"At one time, if it was, $500 that was a felony, and that's been increased to $1,000,” she said. "I was able to co-author that. That matters because I know too many teenagers that think stealing a cell phone makes sense. Cell phone, right? You get a felony on your record because you made a stupid decision."

If the state's incarceration rate is the highest, it only follows that the state has probably got a high rate of children with parents behind bars.

"Last year, we helped over 560 kids," said Johnny Buschardt of New Hope, an organization that tries to help minimize the trauma of having mom or dad locked up.

"One of our kiddos is having a bad day, and she and I get along well, so we were chatting in the hallway," he said. "And I said, 'What's bugging you?' And she said, 'I'm afraid my mom's going to forget what I look like.' And I said, 'Why would you say that?' And she said, 'Because I'm starting to forget what she looks like.'"

But even with all that, there's always the other side.

"If you're doing the crime, well then, you should do the time," said Allan Branch, who describes himself as a Christian constitutionalist conservative,

He said, think of the message the No. 1 incarceration rate is sending to criminals.

"Stay out of Oklahoma, and if you want to come to our state, well then, you best be on your best behavior," Branch said.

Copyright 2018 KTUL via CNN. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.

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