Women in Prison: Why Oklahoma leads the nation

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Incarcerations imperil children’s future

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Oklahoma Watch
January 30, 2011

She doesn’t remember Jeffrey’s funeral.

But Laura Taff knows that’s when it all started – the booze, the pills, the drugs, anything she felt would sedate her.

All of it was self-medication. Taff wanted the pain and guilt to go away. She wanted to forget that moment she couldn’t keep from remembering—the moment when she found her 4-month-old baby boy next to her in bed, stiff, cold and dead.

Taff’s son Jeffrey died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She was 19.

Taff, who had one other son at the time of Jeffrey’s death, went on to have five more sons. She also went on to drink heavily and abuse prescription drugs and eventually methamphetamine. Taff has drug convictions in Oklahoma County dating to 2000 and had entered Drug Court in 2001. After a drug-related arrest, she was revoked from the program in 2004.

She is serving a 47-year sentence on five drug-possession convictions to run concurrently and has been recommended for parole.

Meth is the devil,” Taff, now 39, said. “It will take everything from you—your kids, your house, your car, your sanity, and then you’re left with nothing.”

Taff, who grew up in Midwest City, is one of about 2,300 mothers incarcerated by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, according to estimates from Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth study.

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