Women’s justice advocate Stephanie Horten has been appointed director of Criminal Justice Collaborative for Family & Children’s Services.
In the new role, Horten is being charged with working with criminal justice partners in the community to help move forward with recommendations from the Vera Institute of Justice and identifying additional areas for reform.
“I have been working closely with criminal justice community partners in Tulsa since 2014, and I’m excited about bringing my experience as both an attorney and an advocate to improve the justice system across the continuum,” Horten said. “Many great organizations are working on the issue, and I look forward to continuing our work together.”
Through Vera research, the Criminal Justice Collaborative found that the jail population in Tulsa County has grown by 43 percent since 1999.
The collaborative has a series of recommendations to stop overuse of the jail, including reducing admissions and length of stay at David L. Moss for lower-level charges and making diversion programs accessible early in the process for faster access to substance abuse and mental health treatment.
“This work is centered around public safety, and we want to ensure communities are safe,” said Jonathan Brooks, deputy chief of the Tulsa Police Department. “Jails are one way to do that, but we want to ensure that the right people are being sent there.”
“Our criminal justice and corrections systems have a new opportunity to build on initiatives that are smart on crime: diverting individuals with mental illness and addiction to treatment, saving taxpayers millions of dollars while keeping our communities safe,” said Gail Lapidus, chief executive officer of Family & Children’s Services.
The Criminal Justice Collaborative includes representatives from the Tulsa District Attorney’s Office, Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, the Tulsa Police Department and other community partners.
“The group brings together a broad range of experience and perspectives and I appreciate their intentionality in working together to improve overall strategies within the criminal justice system starting with unnecessary pretrial incarceration,” said District Judge Sharon Holmes of the Criminal Division. “I look forward to continuing to work with Stephanie as she begins this new role.”
Horten, who will lead the collaborative effort, has been a Criminal Justice Advocate at Family & Children’s Services’ for the past four years, advocating within the criminal justice system on behalf of women receiving substance abuse, mental health and case management services.
Horten researched and identified gaps in the criminal justice system impacting the rate of female incarceration and also delivered direct services to justice-involved women in Tulsa County. This provided invaluable experience in the court system and the opportunity to work with many representatives within the criminal justice framework.
Prior to her time in Oklahoma, Horten helped wrongfully convicted individuals as part of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University and represented indigent defendants in appellate and post-conviction proceedings. Prior to law school, she worked in public policy in Washington, D.C.
Horten has a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Westminster College.
About the Criminal Justice Collaborative
The Criminal Justice Collaborative is a group of representatives from Tulsa County’s criminal justice system, who offer different perspectives but share common goals to implement strategies to reduce reliance on pretrial incarceration and to further improve the criminal justice system. Click here to read the full report to Tulsa County Stakeholders on Jail Reduction Strategies by the Vera Institute of Justice.