OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, Gov. Kevin Stitt declared it “Rhonda Bear Day” in the state of Oklahoma – a day to honor a woman he met on the campaign trail, who was previously imprisoned and is now an advocate for criminal justice reform and lowering the state’s incarceration rate of women.
Since her release from prison, Bear has earned her bachelor’s degree in social work and owns a coffee shop in Claremore called ‘She Brews,’ where she employs women transitioning out of prison and helps them gain employment skills.
She also founded a transitional housing organization, ‘His House Outreach Ministries.’
Bear said she hopes the day brings awareness to the need to stop prison growth in Oklahoma this year and to move Oklahoma out of the #1 spot for the highest incarceration rate in the world.
“I feel so blessed that we have a governor who takes the time to get to know the real people impacted by our state’s over-incarceration policies. We cannot continue to tear families apart and give women and men offensively long sentences for non-violent drug crimes that have been proven to not reduce future crimes,” said Bear.
“I am honored by Governor Stitt’s action today, and I believe the most profound action he can take next is signing this session’s bills that stop prison growth and get Oklahoma out of No. 1 in incarceration. I fully support Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform’s legislative agenda to accomplish those goals. These proposed reforms will restore families and reduce the rate of incarceration in our state this year, which should be our first priority,” she said. “There are thousands of women sitting in prison today who are just like me. We need to get these women out of prison now, pair them with services to help them succeed and reunite them with their families.”