A new collaboration in the Treasure Valley is mixing inmates and bicycles.
The Boise Bicycle Project is teaming up with the Department of Correction to start a new program for inmates, teaching them to fix up used bikes to then put back into the community.
“We get so many bicycles donated to us, and our volunteers and mechanics can only fix them so fast,” BBP executive director Jimmy Hallyburton said. “So if we can deliver kids bikes here to the prison and have the inmates working on them, that's going to double the amount of bikes we're able to donate to kids in the community and it's going to free up a lot of space in our shop so we can use that space for other programs.”
Hallyburton's crew will deliver a truckload of bikes each week, freeing up working space at BBP and allowing women at the South Boise Correctional Center to provide a service to the community outside the facility.
“A lot of women that come to us are broken; they carry a lot of baggage,” warden Noel Barlow-Hust said. “So it's important to me that we provide them the opportunity to repair a lot of that, so when they leave here they're able to be successful and they're confident and feel good about what they're doing.”
They'll keep bikes in safe storage at the Correctional Center, and then move them into work spaces during active hours allowing interested inmates to check out necessary tools and get to work.
“We hope to make it a sustainable thing where we're teaching the teachers who can kind of pass on these skills,” Hallyburton said.
Warden Barlow-Hust reached out to the women at the facility hoping to gauge their interest in participating with sign-up sheets around the grounds.
“When I came in to look at it the next morning it was full,” Barlow-Hust said. “We have over 30 women here that are interested in participating.”
The inmates have incentives to participate in the program. After fixing up 15 to 20 bicycles on their own, each inmate can earn a voucher guaranteeing them a bike from BBP and mode of transportation upon their release.
“They are getting something from this, they are getting bicycle transportation, but you can tell there's something more and they really want to help the community,” Hallyburton said. “It just seems like a win win win where everybody is benefitting; inmates are getting transportation, kids are getting bicycles, BBP is getting more room to work on other programs,” Hallyburton said.