Kansas Marketing Association

Your Labor Problems?

by Ed Henry, Vice President

Recently I was privileged to be your representative to tour the Topeka Correctional Facility to explore the use of inmates as labor for Kansas products. Besides being quite an educational experience for this backward farm boy, I also found a situation that could be the answer for the right business' labor problems. For a product line that could exist on its own, this could be a very viable option and could be a positive result not only for you, but also for the correctional system, the inmate, and for all taxpayers! Not only a win-win, but a win-win-win-win for all involved! Let me explain.

Not only the Topeka facility but statewide Kansas corrections is looking for jobs that could be done "inside their walls". One of the jobs I witnessed was a liquid product being mixed, bottled, capped, cased and ready for shipment.

To do this you provide all equipment needed, pay utilities, provide manager, and pay labor costs at prevailing wage. For this you get an employee that shows up for work everyday and no facility to keep up! According to the warden, these are inmates that are very motivated and really want to succeed, because they have worked their way up through in-house jobs which pay less.

What really completed this positive picture for me was how the wages that you pay then are used. The wages are used to pay: taxes, child support, restitution and victim compensation, and a portion of room and board costs. On top of that there is a mandatory savings program. I guess the picture that really made this look positive to me was "would you rather an inmate reenter society with some savings and job skills or with no savings orjob skills?" Would you prefer to assist success or insure failure?

How would you like to assist the system is rehabilitating inmates while getting a good product at reasonable prices? If you would consider the above you could contact Lenny Ewell, the Kansas Correctional Industries, Director of Administration at 785-296-6532, or you could call me with questions at 785-747-2251.

When I helped start this association this isn't quite the activities I had in mind, but it was sure an interesting one!

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