This Friday Casey and I will head out to the Idaho Department of Corrections Men’s Facility to begin the first steps of launching a Shifting Gears Men’s Program.
For the past 3 years our Shifting Gears Women’s Program has made it possible for incarcerated women to earn a future bicycle for themselves by fixing bicycles for kids in BBP’s youth programs. These dedicated women have fixed nearly 1,000 bicycles for children in Boise and beyond. See the video below.
While details about the new men’s program are still developing, we know there will be some key differences. The program at the men’s facility will be focused on a group of about 80 incarcerated veterans. Most of these veterans are serving sentences of 10 or more years, as compared to our women who are typically serving 3-5 years. This means the men will be released much less frequently, so the “earn-a-bicycle” component of the program is a little less central.
Instead, taking “idle time” and transforming it into something meaningful and productive will be one of the largest goals of the program. We plan to launch the program by having the men focus on basic kids bicycles (similar to the women’s program). As time goes, on we envision training the men to work on more and more complicated bicycles until they have the ability to work on just about anything. Within a few years, a lot of these men will be fully trained bicycle mechanics.
There’s more to be sorted out and more to be fine tuned, but we’re so excited to be bringing a new phase of Shifting Gears to our community’s incarcerated men. More details to come!