Facility improvements at South Boise Women's Correctional Center

Remodeled Dayroom at SBWCC
Lt. Alicia Carver, South Boise Women's Correctional Center

Anyone who's lived in, worked in, or toured SBWCC's unit 2, prior to January 2019, would likely agree the unit felt like a late 1980's blast from the past with the teal door trim, baseboards and flooring tiles. The tiers and dayrooms were drab with sporadic artwork and bulletin boards hung about the unit. Fast forward six months and the unit is warm and inviting with inspiring artwork, noise dampening sound panels and comfortable and stylish dayrooms.

The transformation was designed by Lt. Alicia Carver with assistance from Lt. Steve Stelzer, who has a vast amount of knowledge and experience from when he was a residential construction contractor and foreman. Lt. Stelzer hired a work crew of inmates who showed they had the attention to detail skills, the desire to learn a new set of skills and/or had prior experience using large power tools.

Once a lead crew was established, Lt. Stelzer and Lt. Carver conducted a variety of learning work-shops with the crew that revolved around the remodel projects. Some of the specific workshops consisted of dry-wall repair, texturing walls, basic upholstery skills and production of acoustic panels, how to install a floating floor, installing and grouting a tile floor and installing wood and vinyl baseboards.

With each workshop Lt. Stelzer would run the crew through the necessary tools needed to complete the project, along with proper handling and safety precautions. Many of the inmates on the crew were intimidated by using some of the larger power tools. Through positive reinforcement and reassurance from staff, the inmates found a new sense of confidence within themselves and their abilities. The inmates realized they are capable of doing more than they think. Every member of the crew said they felt a sense of accomplishment they hadn't felt in a long while.

One of the most impactful projects completed was the production and installation of the noise dampening acoustic panels. With the unit housing approximately 160 inmates, noise levels can become loud, distracting, and un-nerving for the population. The acoustic panels have drastically minimized the noise levels, which in return has created a quieter environment within the unit.

Many who have entered the newly remodeled unit have commented on how the unit feels more like a treatment facility rather than a prison unit. A perspective that the facility leadership team finds complimentary towards their movement of finding ways to implement principals of normality within the facility.

Story published: 07/10/2019
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