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Hygiene kit donation drive promises new start for returning citizens

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Idaho Falls Police Department is partnering with the Idaho Department of Corrections Re-Entry Program on a Hygiene Kit Donation Drive. IFPD is hoping to collect basic hygiene items that the Re-Entry program can then provide to past offenders who are re-entering the community. 

When people are released from incarceration, they are often starting over. The goal of the Idaho Department of Corrections’ Re-Entry Program is to increase public safety and reduce recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend). The Re-Entry program does this by assisting returning citizens with the transition from inmate to a community member. 

Jessica Clements, public information officer with the Idaho Falls Police Department, says this donation drive is one small way the police department can support returning citizens and their success.

“For people who are being released from prison or from jail who want to be contributing, productive members of society, we want to work with them and support them in that and this is a small way that we think that we can help get them started on the right foot,” Clements said.

Stephanie Taylor-Silva is the re-entry specialist for District 7 Probation and Parole. She hopes these items will help returning citizens be presentable when securing employment or housing, and taking other productive steps.

“We’re not looking for a hand out for these folks, but more a hand up,” Taylor-Silva said.

The drive will also benefit those on supervised probation and anyone first released from jail.

Taylor-Silva says the re-entry program provides a Day One packet with a month’s worth of basic necessities. The Community Food Basket provides boxes of foods to the District 7 Probation and Parole Office to hand out to returning citizens. 

The Parole Office also has a clothing closet to provide clothes for returning citizens who may be coming back home with nothing. Clements says some retired police officers also donate professional attire to help returning citizens secure employment opportunities. She says when the clothing is given to the individual, the re-entry program staff lets the individual know which officer donated the article of clothing to help rebuild the dynamics between the released person and law enforcement.

Senior probation officer, Kevin Milkes, says he has about 80 returning citizens on his caseload and the re-entry program has provided a good start for many people.

“It’s really important to show them and get them that first step coming out and providing them the needs they need to make them successful,” Milkes said.

The police department hopes the donation drive will help rebuild the relationship between returning citizens and police.

“I think a lot of times when they’re released, they don’t know what to expect,” Milkes said. “They come to us and they’re feeling a little anxious, they’re unsure of the situation, and to be able to say, ‘hey, how are you doing on hygiene?’ or ask them, ‘is there anything we can do to help you?’ I think that goes a long way because what that does is it build rapport. From my experience, based on what I’ve done, building rapport is the catalyst to having them being successful.”

“It’s really beneficial and therapeutic for a person coming out of prison to be able to mend that relationship with law enforcement,” Taylor-Silva said.

The Re-Entry program relies on donations to provide these kits to returning citizens. 

IFPD and IDOC personnel will be collecting these items at a “Drive Through Drop Off” location this Thursday, September 3rd from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 6 p.m. This will be at 2400 S 25th East, in the parking lot in front of Best Buy closest to 25th East. 

People can also drop off items they wish to donate at the following locations from Wednesday, September 2nd – 9th during business hours:

  • Bonneville County Law Enforcement Building – IFPD Desk 605 Capital Avenue 
  • Idaho Falls City Hall Lobby 308 Constitution Way 
  • Idaho Falls City Hall Annex 680 Park Avenue

The IDOC Re-Entry program is currently in need of the following items for men and women. 

  • Shampoo/Conditioner (2-in-1) 
  • Body Wash (Liquid, not bar soap) 
  • Toothbrushes 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Flossers 
  • Nail Clippers 
  • Shaving Razors 
  • Deodorant 
  • Lotion 
  • Shower Shoes (Flip-flops) 
  • New Underwear 
  • New Socks 
  • New Bed Linens (Twin/Full)
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Chelsea Briar

Chelsea is a reporter and producer for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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