Chapter 3


Change Brings Hope

Change is not easy. Oklahoma’s story of mass incarceration was written over forty years, and it will take time to close that book and open a new one. But the progress that has happened shows that change is possible. Voters and policymakers have taken important first steps, but further reforms are needed to grow Oklahoma’s economy, protect families, make communities safer, and give people a real second chance.

Dozens of people currently incarcerated in women’s prisons in Oklahoma shared what gives them hope. Several of these poems and essays are included below. If they, condemned to spend years, decades, and even life in prison, can find hope, the least we can do is listen and work to continue to turn the page on Oklahoma’s criminal justice reform story.

Hear a poem written by Jax, an incarcerated woman.

What Gives Them Hope

Hear excerpts of selected writing submissions from currently incarcerated women.


“Everyday I am reminded that even behind these fences, what I do matters. Who I am matters. Who I am becoming matters, and who I am helping other people become matters."


“Change gives me hope. Reform and those who promote programs which rehabilitate, train, and responsibly decarcerate the system. Those who offer opportunities and second chances give me hope.”


“For the first time I believe I can do anything. So I’m saying my past is my past. My actions will define my future. … Failure is not fatal and it's never final.”


“I pray earnestly and hope beyond all other things that I get the chance to make amends with my family.”


“Having hope is everything to a person in prison. Hope of love, hope that you have a life outside of prison, hope that you will have a relationship with your children.”


“I know that I'm destined for greater things than wearing orange for the rest of my life. … Hope is what keeps me striving to be a better person, because when they finally open the front doors of this prison and allow me to walk free, I want to be ready."


“The fundamental principle of hope is that by enduring, the outcome will somehow be altered from its original context.”


“Hope is deep within one’s heart. It gives courage to know that the impossible is possible.”


“There is hope to be found in every day marked off my calendar, one less day to serve. … I feel my heart swell with hope with every phone call home to my family, as we make plans for my release.”


“Hope means life goes on for those of us that society has condemned—that we may return from the rubble victorious. … things can always come back from the lowest point, but can never get lower.”