Inmates at the South Boise Women's Correctional Center now have few more cell mates. Four-legged and furry, to be exact, cats. Cats that need special attention. Who in turn help the inmates get ready for live outside.
At the Idaho Humane Society, you'll see plenty of felines behind bars. In 2015 they housed over 6 thousand cats and kittens at the shelter. But now a program swaps out kennel bars, for prison bars.
"It's a win-win basically for the humane society and for us," said corporal Ami Nunes of the South Boise Women's Correctional Center
It's called W.I.S.K.R. or the woman inmate social kitty retreat. It takes women who are doing hard-time and turns them into foster moms. From taking care of sick and overweight cats to kittens just weeks old.The program started in January, but this is the first time journalist have been allowed to catch the cats in action.
So far, 82 cats have completed the program and found forever homes. But W.I.S.K.R is doing more than helping the cats, it's helping the women behind bars.
"It just gives me a great feeling that I can come home to animal and just love it," Explained Inmate Lisa Justice.
Lisa is serving time for meth and drug trafficking charges. She says taking care of this mama cat and her 5 kittens is nothing short of therapeutic.
"It just makes people happy to have someone to love," Justice explained.
On top of giving the inmates something nurture and be responsible for, authorities at the correction complex say the cats are causing an unintended side effect. Treating anxiety and depression.
"There was a lot of girls going to medical for anxiety and chest pains and once they received their cat that subsided," Cpl. Nunes Explained.
A spokeswoman for the Idaho Humane Society says they can see more than one hundred cats a week during the spring in summer. Putting cats behind bars frees up their foster network and shelter while still giving kitties the special attention and care they need.
"We're going to see a lot of unweaned orphaned kittens come in so they've been trained to bottle feed kittens and so that will be coming up in the next couple months," Explained Allison Maier of the Idaho Humane Society.
The W.I.S.K.R program also needs donations of cat food litter, and toys. To donate, visit the Idaho Humane Society