Tulsa program to keep women out of prison faces deep budget cuts

by: Cailey Dougherty Updated:

TULSA, Okla. - Some Oklahoma organizations say that cuts to mental health programs could lead to more people behind bars.

FOX23 reported last week that the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health announced $75 million in budgets cuts will go into effect Dec. 1 unless a solution to the state budget crisis is found.

The Resonance Center for Women in Tulsa works to keep women out of prison, but budget cuts will severely limit the amount of help it can provide.

The organization serves about 1,000 women a year and has operated for decades. It offers court-ordered substance abuse treatment instead of prison time.

"The cuts in funding will dramatically reduce the number of women that we can serve, which is disheartening because we have so many women in our programs right now that are completely turning their lives around," said executive director Deidra Kirtley.

Kirtley told FOX23 the cuts could include eliminating some positions at the Resonance Center.

She also said the economic impact of the cuts could be significant. She estimates the cost of sending one person to the center for treatment is about $5,000, compared to $20,000 per year for incarceration.

The cuts are expected to take effect in December.


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