A measure before a Kansas House committee would provide vocational training and equipment for inmates at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility to produce up to five homes a year that would then be sold or donated to a needy family.
Current law restricts the sale of prison-made goods like dormitory and outdoor furniture to state employees, organizations, governmental units and churches, according to washingtontimes.
An education center would provide training and materials for the project, which had existed previously but was cut from the budget in 2009. Governor Sam Brownback expressed an interest in reinstating the program during a tour of Ellsworth last year.
While correctional officials say it is a good way of teaching inmates skills so they can better find employment upon release, Martha Smith, the Executive Director of Kansas Manufactured Housing Association (KMHA), said it will reduce competition, and it is an example of another intrusion into the private sector by the government. The inmates are paid $1.05 per day.
Interim Corrections Secretary Johnnie Goddard told the House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development the program would reduce recidivism from 35 percent to 18 percent.
Rob Fillion, the Executive Director of the Smoky Hill Development Corporation, said it will increase housing options in rural areas where housing is tight, as MHProNews has learned.
Smith added that the builders would also avoid standard expenses such as minimum wage, vacation time, recruitment expenses and sick leave. ##