TOPEKA, Kan. — A county corrections department in northeast Kansas plans to offer a skills program for juvenile offenders to help them find employment upon release.

Shawnee County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve a contract between the corrections department and the Topeka Youth Project, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported . The contract permits the department to pay the nonprofit $5,000 to administer the work-life skills program this year.

Corrections Director Brian Cole said the program will be financed through the department’s wellness account, at no cost to taxpayers.

“This is a 20-hour program that the offender will enter while in custody,” Cole said in a memo. “Should the offender be released prior to completion, the offender can continue the class in the community at no further cost.”

Cole said that the initiative can be discontinued if it’s deemed ineffective.

The department and the Topeka Youth project have worked together on youth programs in the past, but the offering was limited to a specific number of juveniles.

Commissioner Kevin Cook said that the corrections department has been looking for ways to offer enhanced programming for inmates after state funding for similar programs was slashed.

“I’m really excited that we get to serve more of the kids,” said Georgiana Wong, executive director of the Topeka Youth Project.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com