Louisiana no longer #1 for incarceration rates

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TULSA, Ok. (KNOE 8 News) - Louisiana is no longer number one for incarceration rates, in fact, Oklahoma now holds the title.

Courtesy: MGN Online

But how did it happen, and why does Oklahoma have the highest incarceration rate in the country?

"It's not that our people are so bad, it's just that our laws are so old," says Regina Goodwin, Oklahoma Representative.

Goodwin, an advocate of criminal justice reform, who 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, I was able to co-author that," says Goodwin. "That matters because I know too many teenagers that think stealing a cell phone makes sense. Cellphone right, you get a felony on you record because you made a stupid decision."

If the state's incarceration rate is the highest, it only follows that we've probably got more children than any other state with parents behind bars.

"Last year we helped over 560 kids" says Johnny Buschardt, New Hope.

Bushardt 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, and I said what's bugging you?," says Buschardt. "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 cause 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," Buschardt.

Conservative Allan Branch says think of the message our number one 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," says Allan Branch, Christian Constitutionalist Conservative.