The Senate Appropriations Committee last week gave unanimous approval to a measure seeking to lower Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate. Senate Bill 1278, by Sen. Kim David, would authorize the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) to enter into a Pay-for-Success (PFS) contract pilot program for those criminal justice programs that have had proven outcomes with reducing public sector costs associated with female incarceration.

 

“Oklahoma has had the highest female incarceration rate in the country for several years now. Oklahoma’s history of imprisoning nonviolent women, rather than treating them, is expensive, ineffective and damaging to families. It’s important that we offer alternatives to incarceration to get these women rehabilitated and back to the workforce and their families,” said David, R-Porter. “Incarceration and poverty are a vicious cycle in our state that we can stop by giving these women the counseling and education they need to get clean, find a job and be able to support themselves without returning to a life of drugs and crime.”

 

With a PFS contract, the government negotiates with a program to deliver a specific outcome, such as reduced incarceration. Private philanthropy provides upfront funding for the program. If, and only if, specific outcomes are achieved, the state would then re-pay a portion of the savings realized. Otherwise, the state does not pay anything. Therefore, the state transfers all risks to the nonprofit.

 

“Utilizing Pay-for-Success contracts is a fiscally-responsible way for Oklahoma to address our incarceration rates. The state only pays after services have been delivered and if specific outcomes and monetary savings are achieved; otherwise, the state owes nothing,” explained David. “Another financial benefit of using these contracts is that state payment will never exceed the state’s savings created through the contracted programs.”

 

A contract would only be paid once OMES verified that the diversion or reentry program was successfully completed by a participant.

 

Under SB 1278, only service providers with the capacity (size, scale, budget) to serve at least 100 high risk women would qualify for this initial PFS pilot.

 

The PFS contract would be delivered in Tulsa County, which is the largest contributor to the female offender population in Oklahoma. Since FY’12, Tulsa County has outpaced Oklahoma County and the rest of the state in its female offender receptions.

 

“This is a win-win opportunity for Oklahoma. OMES can find nonprofits that have successfully helped currently and formerly incarcerated women gain the skills they need to become self-sufficient, productive members of society again,” said David. “This will help decrease the length of sentences and lower recidivism rates, which will in turn help address the state’s prison overcrowding problem and save the state millions in incarceration costs. Once released, these women will also become taxpayers creating new revenue for the state and they’ll hopefully be able to support their families and get off state assistance saving the state even more money.”