An inmate success story: James Luker

James Luker

When it comes to mental health, there are some challenges that can become very difficult to overcome without proper treatment and care. 

When he began his incarceration, Mr. James Luker struggled with his mental illness and did not have an understanding of how he could cope with it at first. 

He spent some time in the C-Block housing unit at Idaho Maximum Security Institution where mental health treatment and programming helped him learn about himself and the bi-polar disorder he was diagnosed with. 

When asked, Mr. Luker said, “I was in denial about my mental illness for years.”

There were many challenges at first, however, things began to change for Mr. Luker on a personal level. 

“I wanted to become a better person in this life,” he said. 

Mr. Luker began to take advantage of the programs available to him through his case manager and class facilitator Larissa Pfeifer. She offered him a chance to begin programs with general population workers with the hopes of having him join them when he completed programming. Mr. Luker has shown his appreciation for the help he has received. 

“Staff have been amazing here and are always a positive motivation day in and day out,” he said. 

In addition, he found help from his parents who encouraged him and with religious services that are provided by volunteers at IMSI.

Mr. Luker started to see things a little differently and began to take accountability for himself and his progress. 

“I put hard work in all the programs I took. I tried to learn as much as possible,” he said.  

Mr. Luker's hard work paid off and he was rewarded with movement into the general population worker units at IMSI in May of 2016. 

He got involved with the IDAPI dog program and began to train dogs from the Idaho Humane Society and got a job in the kitchen. His good attitude and positivity were infectious in the kitchen right away according to IMSI Food Service Officers. 

As of this month, Mr. Luker has successfully stayed in general population and shown to be very responsible for his success for just over one year. He remains employed in the kitchen and has continued to work very hard. 

“My mental illness has helped me grow in life. I have ups and downs but I know I have more good days than bad. I have grown more mature with my mental illness and know I can conquer it with truth and taking medication.” 

Mr. Luker has stayed very close with his mother and father, whom he considers his best friends and they have provided a great support system for Mr. Luker through his journey.

Story published: 06/29/2017
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