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State Leaders Honor Women after Prison Diversion (Mar 23, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A dozen women who were facing long stretches in prison for drug-related crimes are instead being praised by state leaders for successfully completing a prison-diversion program.

Participants in the Tulsa-based Women in Recovery program received diplomas and rousing applause on Wednesday during a ceremony at the state Capitol. Republican House Speaker Kris Steele's voice cracked with emotion as he told the participants that their success validates his effort to try and reduce the state's explosive prison growth.

Oklahoma locks up more women per capita than any other state and consistently ranks among the top five states for the overall incarceration rate.

Steele is sponsoring a bill this year designed to expand the use of alternative sentencing for nonviolent, low-level offenders.

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