She Never Hurt Her Kids. So Why Is a Mother Serving More Time Than the Man Who Abused Her Daughter?

Oklahoma incarcerates more women than almost any other state. Under its punishing, under-the-radar “failure to protect” law, mothers — even those who are victims of domestic violence — can be sent to prison because of their supposed failure to keep their children out of harm’s way. In this devastating read, Samantha Michaels tells the story of one Oklahoma woman, Kerry King, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison — but had never hurt her kids.

These laws also create an impossible dynamic that makes survivors less likely to report what’s happening to police. When someone calls 911 after being abused by a partner, some cops open a child welfare investigation if there are kids in the family. So if a mother calls 911, she risks losing her kids; if she doesn’t, she risks being prosecuted for failure to protect. As one legal expert suggests, there’s no way to win.

Source: Mother Jones
Published: Aug 9, 2022
Length: 33 minutes (8,303 words)
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