June 15, 2017
Story and photo by Brandon Steinert
Barton welding instructor Allan Collins, who works with inmates at Ellsworth Correctional Facility (ECF) via the Building Academic Skills In Correctional Settings (BASICS) program, was named the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) Outstanding Contract Employee of the Year for the Ellsworth facility. He received a certificate and shook Gov. Sam Brownback’s hand Wednesday morning at the Capitol Building in Topeka.
Collins was initially nominated by his peers to be considered for the quarterly award in 2016, and said he simply tries to provide the best service possible in hopes of having a positive impact on society, and that the award is representative of a team effort.
“I feel like I’m receiving this because of everyone else’s hard work,” he said. “This is the greatest job in the world. You get to meet people whose lives will be changed for the better because of your efforts. I get to talk about welding, which I have a passion for, and I get paid for it. How much better of a job can you have?”
Recent changes to the structure of corrections in Kansas places a heavier emphasis on inmate education to reduce recidivism by providing opportunities to learn new skills like welding, manufacturing, carpentry and more.
Collins said as an educator who has seen first-hand the effectiveness of education in correctional facilities, that he is excited for the new approach.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result,” he said. “How many years have we just warehoused people? Has it worked? I don’t think so. Education trains the inmates to be productive members of society. If they learn to weld they can support their families. They don’t have to sell drugs or steal to make money anymore. It’s the only sane, logical path we can go down.”
Collins said he was humbled by the award and reiterated his gratitude for the efforts of his colleagues.
“The way I see it, I’m just accepting this on their behalf,” he said.
Visit bartonccc.edu/BreakTheCycle for more information on Barton’s service to Kansas correctional facilities.