Barkman Honey starts ‘Project re-entry’

Since 1960, Barkman Honey’s company values of corporate, industry and community growth remain front and center. With a strong commitment to its Hillsboro roots and servanthood mentality, Barkman Honey will introduce a “Project Re-entry” inmate workforce program with workers coming on board from the Hutchinson Correctional Facility beginning in July. The Project Re-entry inmate program will initially employ nine positions in the Hillsboro manufacturing plant.

“We’re pleased to begin this progressive Project Re-entry program. Not only are we helping to provide a fresh start for hardworking, qualified inmates, we’ll be addressing the workforce availability challenges we continue to realize in Marion county,” says owner and CEO Brent Barkman.

Barkman Honey hopes to see the inmates successfully transition back into the workforce and community as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens and reduce the chance of inmates returning to prison. Currently, multiple inmate workforce programs operate across the state, some of which include Cal- Maine Foods, Henke Manufacturing, Husky Hogs, Mill Creek, Redbarn Pet Products, Wifco Steel Products, Zephyr Products, among others. The Kansas Department of Corrections inmate workforce program has a successful history spanning 40 years and currently employs over 900 inmates across the state.

Inmates applying for the Barkman Honey inmate program must be located in minimum security, have history of good behavior with low risk for violence or re-offending, be stringently screened for mental and physical health, not be convicted of a sex crime and must be 1 to 8 years from release. Inmates are also required to pass drug screening and successfully complete pre-employment interviews with the Barkman Honey human resources department.

Inmates will be competitively compensated and required to pay federal and state taxes, social security, room and board, victim compensation and child support. Additionally, 10% of inmate wages are directed to a mandatory savings account to further help with the transition back to society.

“We’re taking significant precautions to ensure successful adoption of this program – both with our team members and in the Hillsboro community,” states owner and CEO Brent Barkman. In an effort to thoughtfully assist current civilian Barkman Honey team members in adjusting to the evolving culture, the company will undergo procedural and acclimation training in addition to initially placing a full-time security guard on staff to supervise inmate workers. The company is also communicating with neighbors and local police to ensure preparedness for the new program.