The new Colby Community College telecommunications network technician program at the Norton Correctional Facility recently received a financial boost from the Thomas County Attorney's Office. The donation came after a state grant to help subsidize the program did not materialize.

According to County Attorney Rachel Lamm, her office can provide funding through non-tax payer asset forfeiture funds.

“The State of Kansas has restrictions on how forfeiture funds can be used, but Kansas allows for distribution of funds for law enforcement goals," she said.

The idea for additional education in the correctional facility began in 2018 when CCC adult education instructor Dian Organ attended a conference and learned how a college in another state implemented a similar program.

"I am pleased that Dian approached the Thomas County Attorney’s Office with this opportunity to lower inmate recidivism," Lamm said. "An inmate that can immediately enter the job market is essential to their future success. Opportunities like this are few and far between, and I hope they take pride in their work and make every effort to provide for themselves and their families.”

The curriculum teaches skills necessary for entry-level positions in the industry to perform fiber and copper-based network cabling. College and correctional facility officials conduct interviews to select participants, who will earn 15 college credit hours and industry-recognized credentials before their release date. Many of the students will concurrently complete their high school equivalency diplomas.

CCC Executive Vice President Brad Bennett also believes the program can make a difference in many lives.

"This will lead to job placement and a sustainable wage upon release," he said." The overall goal is to reduce recidivism and improve the communities we serve."

The inaugural class begins on September 30. The program lasts 12 weeks.