Are you motivated to do the work needed in 2023 to support the lives of individuals being released from incarceration daily? I hope so! We have challenges that need your effort. I am Blessed to experience the excitement of seeing change each week in individuals who make the effort to overcome their mistakes. I love seeing this and sharing. I also see those who fall right back into the pattern that sent them to prison.
It is that time of year! What we now call “Cookies for Corrections” began as Cookies for Max over two decades ago. In the beginning religious volunteers took homemade cookies that had been divided up from the dozens of recipes cooked by church members throughout the Treasure Valley. It was quite the treat shared with a “Merry Christmas!" and “God Bless!". That was at Idaho Maximum Security Institution (IMSI) where the population was only about 500.
Yes, you see a photo of me voting this year. I was discharged from parole in 2017. Please note that the laws in Idaho are as follows: Idaho Individuals convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote while in prison, on parole, or on probation. Voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of all supervised release. Ex-offenders should re-register to vote. A patchwork of state felony disfranchisement laws, varying in severity from state to state, prevent approximately 5.
I am learning to accept that working with those of us who support the efforts of folks who struggle with the demons of addiction in some form will be always changing people and staff. We saw that recently at the Boise Recovery Rally in Julia Davis Park. It is very similar to those of us who also support those leaving incarceration who return to community. We are honored to work with a new group of individuals who have the passion to support this group of God’s children.
The work we are so Blessed to do involves supporting individuals returning to community from incarceration. There are emotional peaks and valleys in the process. We see the best of men and women at times. We are also there when they struggle to make the difficult choices needed to complete the process of probation or parole. Most of the folks in the photo have some real life experience that makes all the difference building credible links to the population who enter our offices daily.
As we live through a week with temperatures over the century mark, I tend see the smallest of problems as so frustrating. I know I am not the only one who feels this way (but it seems so at times). Summer is always a bit challenging in this work…there are staff vacations, sickness of key associates and lack of dedication to the work we do for returning citizens. The key for me is to see God’s hand in something small that happens daily and be grateful for that small sign of His love.
Let this be the day where we as returning citizens take charge of our lives and become involved in seeking our own freedom. What does that mean to you? Do you need better housing? An application process that does not make it almost impossible to find affordable options would be fantastic. Do you feel your voice is not heard about the experience you lived in incarceration? Try to connect with those trying to change things.
The first of what look to be a series of informational workshops and support for returning citizens and those who love them was held last Saturday. This event is designed to replace the Community Information Resource Fair which has normally been held in September at Vineyard Boise. Ten Mile Christian in Meridian is the new host. It is a single day event now held on a weekend day (Saturday). There is a second one scheduled for December of 2022 at the same location.
In my efforts to support those who leave incarceration daily in Idaho I hear all kinds of stories about the shortcomings of the prison system. Here is a classic: As I write this there is a lady sitting in Ada County jail for over 30 days now. She is on felony probation. She has been taken into custody for the charge of voting in the last election while still on parole.
Those who read my words and know me understand how I like to speak about the progress we as returning citizens are making in support of those who follow us back into community. There has been progress! I am listing three examples which all will learn more about in the coming months. Mark and Mark have joined forces. As the picture suggests Mark Person and Mark Renick are working together.