Washington, D.C. (September 8, 2017) -- Oklahoma incarcerates women, many of them mothers, at a rate more than twice the national average. As the state grapples with an emerging political consensus around criminal justice reform, The Atlantic will convene an afternoon event in Oklahoma City centered around the experiences of women affected by the state’s justice system.

Defining Justice: The Experience of Women and Children Behind Bars” will take place on September 20 from 1-5 PM CT at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers Theatre (4322 N. Western Ave). This is the first in a series of three events, underwritten by Google, examining aspects of the American criminal justice system and how they affect women and children in cities across the country.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin will join the program for a one-on-one discussion on the political path towards criminal justice reform in Oklahoma, moderated by The Atlantic’s Alison Stewart.  

Other conversations across the afternoon will confront key questions surrounding women in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system: Why is the women’s incarceration rate in Oklahoma so high? What are the long-term human costs to the women and children affected by the justice system? And what could a woman-oriented criminal justice system look like?

Speakers include policymakers, advocates, justice experts, and women who have been incarcerated in Oklahoma prisons. Among the experts taking part in the discussions are Sheila Harbert, Chief Community Outreach Officer for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma; Mimi Tarrasch, Executive Director of Women In Recovery;  Kris Steele, Executive Director of The Education and Employment Ministry and the former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives; and Susan Sharp, Presidential Professor Emerita at the University of Oklahoma and author of Mean Lives, Mean Laws: Oklahoma’s Women Prisoners.

“Defining Justice” will be convened in collaboration with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Journalists with Reveal will discuss details of their new investigation and data analysis examining the roots of why Oklahoma incarcerates women at the highest rate in the country. The report will be available on revealnews.org and will be featured on Reveal's national public radio and show and podcast, produced with PRX.

“Defining Justice” is the latest extension of The Atlantic’s dedication to covering the complex issues of race and justice that America has grappled with throughout its history. The September issue of the magazine featured an extensive report on the plea bargain system by Emily Yoffe, “Innocence is Irrelevant,” and Ta-Nehisi Coates penned a scathing reflection of race and the Trump presidency for the magazine’s fortcoming October issue. TheAtlantic.com is running an ongoing digital reporting series, “In the Presence of Justice,” which focuses on efforts across the U.S. to move beyond the age of mass incarceration.

This event is open to outside press. Please RSVP directly to this email or be in touch with The Atlantic’s Sydney Simon (ssimon@theatlantic.com; 202-266-7338) with any questions.

Google is underwriting this event series as part of its ongoing efforts to support organizations that use data science and digital storytelling to advance inclusion and justice for all.

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