By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — For Doug Waddington, Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility warden, the ribbon-cutting and dedication for a vocational education program is a shining moment.
Waddington considers the arrangement with Barton Community College to construct a vocational education building that benefits LCMHF residents to be at the top of his achievements during his five-year tenure.
“We needed a vo-tech program, some building trades that gave the offenders some marketable skills when they are released,” Waddington said. “It’s been a long-term goal. We have a waiting list, which is a good indication of how valuable these skills are to offenders.”
Barton Community College purchased a metal building for LCMHF to house a new carpentry vocational program. LCMHF purchased materials to complete the interior of the building and has provided the staff and offender labor to construct the building.
“It’s a great day from the college’s perspective,” said Carl Heilman, Barton Community College president. “The building represents a partnership with entities working together for the best possible opportunity.”
Heilman said Barton’s staff enjoys helping the offenders achieve their goals to start a new life.
“The carpentry program represents a mission of the community college to provide opportunities for a better life,” Heilman said. “We want them to be productive citizens. We want to perpetuate helping others, being there for them. We will continue to be here as long as we’re wanted. We believe in everyone getting an opportunity to better their lives.”
Waddington welcomed everyone to the carpentry vocational program for offenders at LCMHF. Waddington said the program is one of several innovations possible as a result of the partnership with Barton and LCMHF.
“The dedication of this new vocational building is a celebration of Barton’s and LCMHF’s commitment to the safe and successful return of offenders to our communities,” Waddington said. “Without the partnership, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Ray Roberts, secretary for the Kansas Department of Corrections, believes the program benefits everyone.
“We couldn’t have done this without Barton College’s staff,” Roberts said. “Doug (Waddington) always wants to see better opportunities and vocational training for the offenders.”
Roberts said educational programs through Barton Community College at LCMHF has resulted in GEDs, work-related certificates and industry-recognized certification. Roberts said offenders returning to society require a residence, employment and their past addictions and behavior under control to succeed.
“Barton College’s staff is very focused on improving their lives,” Roberts said.
Roberts said offenders who receive general education and vocational training are less likely to return to prison after release and more likely to find employment than peers who do not receive such opportunities. Employment after release was 13 percent higher among offenders who participated in either academic or vocational education programs than those who did not. Those who participated in vocational training were 28 percent more likely to be employed after release from prison than those who did not receive such training which leads to lower recidivism.
Waddington said, “As a team, Barton and the Kansas Department of Corrections provide offenders the opportunity to improve their chance for success upon release through vocational and educational programming while incarcerated,” he said. “This partnership with Barton that LCMHF is able to provide this new vocational program to minimum security offenders, many who are near release. There is great value to public safety and reduction of recidivism in providing educational and vocational programs to offenders.”
LCMHF maintenance employees include Randy Wilson, Roger Johnson, Tim Johnson, Brian Prescott, Rey Rodriguez, Stephan Schrepel, Steve Seeman, Jeffrey Shull, Tom Smith and Mike Walker.
Offender workers include Ricky Barber, Paul Bollig, Kevin Brower, Anthony Cisneros, Hubert Davis, Archie Dooley, Oscar Garza, Nathan Goodwin, Claudie Gray, Billy Haffner, Jeffrey Hall, Andrew Hansen, Ronald Hashenberger, Kevin Holland, Haynes Jones, Robert Kafka, Robert Karther, David Lane, Bryson Rhodes, Barry Rhyne, Xavier Rodriguez, Stacy Scott, Marvin Standley, Anthony Sutton and James Waidley.