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Stand in the Gap program doubling volunteers to address growing prison population

Posted: 9:03 PM, Aug 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-09 03:11:57Z

TULSA, Okla. -- In Oklahoma, 25,000 children have at least one parent in prison right now.

Statistics show that 70% of those kids will be incarcerated themselves. The Stand in the Gap program calls it the "generational curse", and it's one they're working to break.

Shaunt'e Gordon was 11 years old when her mom was sent to prison. Facing anger and behavior issues, Gordon was incarcerated herself just four years later.

"I was really young and I was pregnant. I gave birth to a baby and we were both in foster care when she was born. One day I came home from school and my case worker was there and she told me "we're removing the baby from the home," she said.

After 12 years behind bars, Gordon was out for less than two. Then, another six year stint before finding help through Stand in the Gap.

"I knew that was an answer to my prayers about my future. She started inviting me to come to Claremore, telling me I would make it until I was released. She started telling me how I was going to make it, what her plan was to help me make it," Gordon said.

Gordon made ie through transitional housing, employment, and a team of mentors. Now, she's started an odd jobs business that employs former felons.

"We've seen marriages restored. We now see women who are buying their first homes, buying their first cars, going back to college, graduating from college. This is all fruit of the program and this investment," executive director Francois Cardinal said.

In the last four years, Stand in the Gap reunited 150 children with their moms. For Gordon, she found her daughter after 21 years apart.

"I really feel blessed because she has a daughter so I feel like I got back double for all that trouble," she said.

Stand in the Gap went from 25 to 50 support groups in the last year. By next year, that number will be closer to 100.

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