Letter to the editor – July 1, 2021

Dear editor,

I would like to shed a little light on the topic of the Topeka Correction Facility’s inmate work program happening in our community. 

Prison work programs might, on the surface, bring “opportunities for rehabilitation” and “provide inmates with outside activities” but unfortunately they represent a bandaid meant to cover a much larger issue’s wound. 

As you may have guessed, work programs are made available to inmates that have been deemed safe and functional to be outside the prison compounds — so non-violent. As you should also know, many people are in prison for petty crimes, drug addictions, and false accusations. Generally these are the same people who are being let out for work programs. 

So my question to society is this; if those people are deemed safe enough, functional enough, and worthy enough to step outside the thick walls we’ve placed around them — just to go to work every day — why are they even in there? What is the purpose of depriving a human of their humanity? 

The article quoted [Lisa] Pereira stating that her social skills were a nervous topic for her. [Jan] Vicory speaks about spending time “getting humanity back.”

As a family member of a current KDOC (Kansas Department of Corrections) inmate, I am saddened to know that our community is wearing that bandaid right over our eyes by contributing to the problem. 

I know that some, possibly many, inmates enjoy the outings. For those it’s the silver lining to their very dark cloud. But of course it is! In their circumstances they have no other options. 

I have no objections to consequences within our society. But spending five years away from your children, your family, and society as a whole because you have an addiction? Who does that really help? 

By the end of their sentences our loved ones come home to us as different people. We need change to the system. We can’t get that overnight. What we can do is prevent our community from being a part of the problem. 

Having people work for lower wages because their circumstance leaves them with no other options — is forcing them. Forcing people to work for you and restricting their freedoms — is slavery. 

I implore people to do their research into the Prison Work Programs. Not just within Kansas, but our nation as a whole. Knowledge is key.

— Kristin Wright,

Iola, Kan,