IDOC begins "clothing closet" for released inmates – WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois – WSIL TV

VIENNA — Inmates at the Vienna Correctional Center will get a fresh start in new clothes when they walk out of prison. It’s part of a new program being introduced throughout prisons across Illinois.

Some of the inmates have nothing when they are first released. Corrections leaders say, now, not only will the men leave with new clothes, but with confidence they’ll succeed.

“I got me a nice outfit, a long-sleeve shirt with a button, some nice jeans, some shoes even. They got shoes back there,” says Jackie Cambron.

For Cambron, who spent the last 15 months wearing the same blue uniform, wearing something different means everything.

“It gives you a little more confidence in yourself, too, and then people’s not just staring at you like, ‘oh, look at him, he’s no good, he’s a prison, jail guy,’ you know? ‘We don’t want him around us,’ you know? They won’t even try to give you a chance without talking to you. They judge you by the clothes you’re wearing,” says Cambron.

The Illinois Department of Corrections started a “clothing closet” at all minimum and medium security facilities across Illinois, so when inmates like Cambron are released, they can walk out ready for the world.

“Once you’re condemned to wearing the same thing for so long and then you finally get a chance to wear something different, it makes you feel, and makes everything feel a little bit better,” adds Donald Ashford who set to be released soon.

The program is part of a larger initiative called “Rapid Results” started by Governor Bruce Rauner. IDOC Spokesperson Nicole Wilson says Vienna Correctional Center releases about 20 offenders a week. So far, about 49-inmates have left with clothing donated by many of the employees.

“That gives employees the feeling of accomplishment knowing that they can get their ideas out there about how to spend our time more efficiently, how to work more efficiently and spend resources more efficiently,” explains Wilson.

She calls the clothing a confidence booster. Darius Saddler, who will also be released soon agrees.

“Something as simple as a shirt can change ones self esteem from low to higher. Just looking better. You look better, you feel better, tend to do better,” says Saddler.

Many of the donations come from community members, organizations and churches. John Steve with the Herrin House of Hope, jumped at the chance to help.
“I know the situation, the stigma that they are going through upon their release, how they feel. I remember when I came out of the 
correctional center that I was in 5 1/2 years ago, I was worried about how people thought about me,” added Steve.

The guys say they’re so grateful to be given another chance with a fresh start.

“No matter what the situation is, what you’ve been through, people still care. Everybody is not quick to judge you about what you did in the past,” says Ashford.

“Just because we’re in jail doesn’t mean we’re all killers and bad people, we’re good people, we just need a chance. We all make mistakes in life,” adds Cambron.

“You know, I have a couple strikes against me already and when I enter society, I want to feel like I belong,” says Saddler.

Wilson says all the clothing items are thoroughly checked. What can’t be used, goes back out into the community. 

To donate to the program, can call the Vienna Correctional Center at (618) 658-8371.  


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