back to the community
Not far from the beaten path just beyond the lovely little city of Cottonwood, rests a minimum custody, all-male rehabilitation prison facility; North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI). What once was an Air Force base, converted into a housing facility for the Department of Correction in 1974, now houses 414inmates.Around 1987, the facility introduced inmate fire crews that assisted in digging ditches for fire prevention as well as firefighting. This dwindled to only occasional fire crews here and there, and was later transferred to Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino (ICIO) after just a few years.
It wasn’t until June of 2003, when Lynn Guyer became the Warden of the facility, that focus became “Giving Back to the Community.” With a vision and a plan, work crews became a primary focus. We first partnered with the local City of Cottonwood and Cottonwood School District; both are still valued members of our partnership. From nonprofit, volunteer, or governmental events and tasks, NICI provides low risk, nonviolent offenders to conduct community service within the Cottonwood and Grangeville area on a routine basis. So much so that we now have annual tasks dedicated throughout the year.
In most recent years, NICI’s Work Crew was called out to assist in flood prevention in Cottonwood. In the spring of 2014, Cottonwood Creek flooded and jeopardized some of Cottonwood’s downtown businesses. With the quick response and team effort in building and laying sand bags, the work crew assisted in saving and preserving many of the local downtown businesses. This is just one of many ways NICI is able to give back to a community that so genuinely supports rehabilitation of low risk inmates.
As of mid-April, 2015, NICI Work Crews have assisted in a total of 16 community activities in addition to road clean up, local sidewalk sweeping, and basic maintenance on a few selected areas. The inmates truly enjoy the opportunity to contribute to the communities in a healthy and pro-active way. They take pride in their work and hold each other to a high standard while showing their appreciation and gratitude for being given a second chance. Currently Sgt. Graham is the contact person for scheduling and setting up partnerships for future work crews. She can be reached Monday – Wednesday at (208)962-3276. As always, NICI appreciates the partnerships and is eager to give back where we can.