Ex-inmates paired with professional clothing in program

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ILLINOIS (WAND) – A program is working to help parolees from going back behind bars through a wardrobe change.

William Denwood started an organization that looked to get prisoners involved in bible study. It grew over time into an effort that exists in all of Illinois’ prisons.

Denwood’s creation has since changed its design. “Suits for Success” looks to prepare prisoners with the right clothing for interviews before they go back out into the world. It enlists clothing donations from all over Illinois and the help of dry cleaning business owners who decided to help. Only seven in Illinois have joined.

“If this is a way that they might be able to get a job and help them stay out of prison and be good citizens for the community, then I think that’s a good idea,” said Kevin Buskirk, owner of Country Squire Cleaners in Champaign.

Denwood says the program makes an impact for more than just the former prisoners. It also helps build up the Illinois economy.

“It makes good sense for the parolee because they get a job and get back in the community, and (they start) paying taxes and taking from the state coffers,” Denwood said. “It makes sense for the prisons because it reduces the population. We can save taxpayers $15 million per year by getting 1 percent of the inmates or parolees not going back into prison.”

“Suits for Success” has donated 11,000 garments to parolees across the state.

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