The Idaho Department of Correction’s Free2Succeed program hosted a dinner event Friday night called Recover Out Loud to welcome men and women returning to the community after serving their prison sentences.
Former inmates and mentors in the program were joined by Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Department of Correction senior personnel, all of whom encouraged the city’s new residents.
The Free2Succeed initiative pairs men and women returning from prison with mentors who can help them readjust and prevent them from repeating their crimes.
Stephanie Taylor-Silva, a Free2Succeed mentor who helped organize the Recover Out Loud event, said it was important to reassure former inmates they were welcome in the community. Recover Out Loud also celebrates the mentors who work with returning community members.
Casper encouraged the guests at the dinner, telling them they could succeed despite their records.
“Just by being in this room, the odds are in your favor,” Casper said.
Casper added that the city had more jobs than employees to fill them, and that former inmates could find opportunities in Idaho Falls.
McGeachin echoed Casper’s comments, citing her own experiences as a business owner.
“Speaking as a small business owner, I know how important you are to my restaurant and my repair shop,” McGeachin said.
McGeachin also cited Taylor-Silva’s experience recovering after she was imprisoned in 2008 for drug possession. Taylor-Silva went on to receive pardons in Idaho and Montana.
Idaho Department of Correction Director Joshua Tewalt told those in attendance their record did not have to be a liability.
“You could look at that felony as a lifetime sentence of collateral consequences,” Tewalt said. “You also have a chance to look at that arrest as a rescue.”