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Adjusting to life after prison

“I spent over 40 years out there, doing all the wrong things, and now I’ve got a pretty good amount of time doing the right thing,” said Center for Hope volunteer, Elden Moore.

According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 64% of Americans have had an immediate or extended family member in prison.

“Spending a lot of time locked up I didn’t know what life was supposed to look like after the fact, so getting out I had a lot of doubts of whether I could succeed again.”

Fourteen years ago, Elden Moore was presented with the obstacle many people who are released from jail experience, trying to figure out how to resume to a normal life.

“We want people to succeed, and if you don’t have the tools to do that, you’re going to end up back in jail or back in trouble,” said director of the Behavioral Health Crisis Center of East Idaho, Hailey Tyler.

“Everybody has different needs, there are some people who do have housing when they come out of prison, they have a phenomenal support system, and then we do have incarcerated individuals who don’t have a support system at all,” said Stephanie Taylor-Silva.

The Idaho Department of Correction begins working with inmates six months before their release to help prepare them for the challenges they’ll face like finding housing, a job, maintaining their health both physical and mental, and the perception people may have of them.

“You’ve paid the consequence and now you go back to the community, and for many of them, the consequences don’t really end there, there’s a lot of stigmas associated with it. These individuals, they have a lot that they can contribute to the community still,” said Director of Voice Advocacy, Andra Smith Hansen.

According to IDOC, offenders who participated in education programs were 43% less likely to return to prison within three years of release.

“So when they come into prison, we immediately start working on what that re-entry’s going to look like when they get out,” said IDOC program director, Jeff Kirkman.

IDOC partners with various organizations around the community who help these people get the support they need. Preparing for re-entry, building healthy relationships, navigating addiction and trauma, and any additional support they may require.

“There are resources out there and there are people willing to help them, so they’re not doing this thing all on their own.”

IDOC is hosting a “Navigating Tools for Re-Entry” conversation Thursday night at the Bennion Student Union Building in Idaho Falls, from 7-9pm. They will talk about the different tools the community can help these individuals with.

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