ISCI’s Clothing Closet helps residents dress for success

By Luke Kormylo, Program Manager, Idaho State Correctional Institution
April 12, 2023
April and Christine stand for photo in "closet"
April and Christine stand for photo in "closet"

In June of 2020, Christine Diaz decided to leave her position as a parole hearing investigator in order to join IDOC as a case manager at the Idaho State Correctional Institution.  One of her immediate desires and ambitions was to start up a clothing resource for residents returning to the community.  To quote Christine, “During my time as a parole hearing investigator assigned to the South Boise Women’s Correctional Center, I got to see how exciting and transforming it was for the women to be able to ditch their prison uniforms in exchange for sharp and fresh-looking civilian clothing.”

Upon her arrival, Christine made it her mission to establish a similar clothing resource at ISCI.  With the enthusiastic thumbs up given by ISCI facility leadership, Christine set to task.  In order to get this project started, she needed to first obtain the clothing.  “I harassed practically everyone I knew.”  Christine solicited donations from friends, family, and her local church – Ten Mile Christian.  They all vigorously answered the call and continue to do so.  The sheer amount and the quality of the clothing has been staggering.  Many of the donations are literally brand new, never-worn clothing items from brands such as Nike, Eddie Bauer, Under Armour, Cabelas, and the Duluth Trading Company.  Not only did Christine obtain clothing; she also obtained incredible quantities of shoes, belts, hats, wallets, gloves, coats, jackets, caps, new socks, new undergarments, and backpacks.

One of the greatest challenges for Christine was finding space for the sheer volume of these articles.  ISCI leadership graciously carved out two rooms to be transformed into closets to accommodate the goods.  When Christine realized the scope of this project, she knew that this would be tough to take on alone.  Case Manager April Barroso enthusiastically accepted the request for help and has been an integral part of the closet’s functioning ever since.  The two have spent countless hours sifting through veritable van-loads of clothing - sorting them by size, type, and season.  To say that it has been a huge undertaking would be an understatement.  Clothing donations grew so much that the Closet has been able to fulfill needs at other Department facilities and parole district offices.

What brings Christine the most joy is seeing the transformative effect it has on residents releasing back to the community.  “I love seeing them be able to choose their own clothing and walk out of here looking like neighbors instead of inmates. I love seeing the smiles on their faces as they leave dressed in their own sense of style. Despite all the hard work, seeing residents head out the door dressed for success makes it all worthwhile.”
ISCI would like to thank Christine and April for maintaining this incredible resource for our population.  Christine would like anyone reading this to know that she is always on the prowl for donations!