Oklahoma locks up more women than any other state according to a 2010 statistic by The Sentencing Project. According to the same study, Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for incarcerated people and imprisons citizens at a higher rate than other state. Yet once those individuals serve their time, they are often returned to society without the skills and opportunities that many take for granted. To help smooth this transition, there is help for those just leaving prison. Assistant Director of Employment and Training, Margaret Zientek, heads the Mno Bmadzejek Reentry and Diversion Program at CPN, now entering its third year. The program helps guide, instruct and encourage ex-prisoners and individuals headed in that direction to get their lives back on the right path.
“In the program’s history, only one out of 54 individuals who participated relapsed,” said Zientek. “It takes an ex-prisoner two years to get adjusted to normal life and with that, the new grant will oversee the success of the clients.”
Zientek, a Tribal member, recently completed the lengthy application process that helped secure funding for the program. Along with assistance from the CPN Self-Governance Office, the Tribe, through the 2014 Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation Reentry and Diversion Program award, will continue to assist these individuals’ lives in their time of need.
This year’s grant has some changes from previous years. Whereas the program previously could only help individuals coming out of prison, the 2014 grant also allows assistance to individuals on the path to prison. Another added dimension to the grant will allow ex-prisoners to help with mentor people away from a criminal lifestyle. The grant is worth nearly $750,000 and will run from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2017.