Kansas state parks lose labor supply as prisons cut back

The closing of three rural correctional facilities to save the state money could increase costs in areas such as park services and maintenance.

The prisons at Toronto, Osawatomie and Stockton have produced tens of thousands of work hours each year for some state parks, towns and nonprofit organizations. But to save about $900,000 this year, the Kansas Department of Corrections is closing those facilities.

"It's a very difficult situation because it looks like the state is adding back to the budget with one hand and taking it away with another," said Kelly Johnston, Kansas Department of Wildlife

and Parks commission chairman.

Some state parks have depended on inmate labor for more than 40 years and don't have the budget to hire replacements.

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