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Department of Correction looking to open re-entry center

The Idaho Department of Correction is looking to open a re-entry center in the Twin Falls area where as many as 120 minimum-security state prisoners could live and work.

The proposed facility would offer the same type of programming and opportunities as the now-closed Twin Falls Community Work Center, the Times-News reported.

Department Director Henry Atencio confirmed the plans Jan 9. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is backing the idea and has recommended funding for the center in his fiscal year 2019 budget.

The center would bring in low-risk, low-security inmates just months away from their release date.

Officials hope the center will help reduce recidivism rates and provide some relief to the overcrowded state prison.

The opportunity to work outside the prison before they are released can provide inmates with a valuable networking opportunity, said Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

“A job is an important part of successful reintegration,” she said, adding that many inmates struggle with finding employment.

The money earned can also help inmates pay off restitution and child support.

“They’re going to make more money in a work center than they will in a job behind a prison fence,” Atencio said. “It’s just a great opportunity to really set up an inmate for a better transition back into our communities.”

Before it closed in 2011, Twin Falls Community Work Center employed 13 people.

The new center is expected to employ between 12 and 15 people.

The department is looking to either buy or build a space for the center, Atencio said.

Otter has requested that more than $9 million be transferred to the Permanent Building Fund for such moves.

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