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About Work Release

Work release (WR) facilities serve as a bridge between life in prison and life in the community. Incarcerated people at work release focus on transition, to include finding and retaining employment, treatment, re–connecting with family members, develop life skills, and becoming productive members of the community. They learn and refine social and living skills such as riding the bus, going to the grocery store, and managing their personal finances – all while under community supervision. Work release is an opportunity for self–improvement, while assisting incarcerated people in creating a safe and productive lifestyle that can be sustained upon release.

Eligibility & Expectations

All incarcerated persons can be referred to work release 12 months prior to their earned release date. An incarcerated person with six months left to serve on his/her sentence may be eligible to spend those last months in a work release facility, if specific criteria are met:

For example:

  • The incarcerated person must have a record of good behavior
  • Be assigned 'Minimum 1' custoody level, and
  • There must be available bed space at a work release facility.

Incarcerated people in work release facilities must follow all program rules. They must search for and/or retain employment and will be monitored to ensure compliance. Frequent testing for substance abuse will be administered. Incarcerated persons may only leave the facility for work or other specific activities, such as appointments, treatment, shopping, or outings to visit family. Incarcerated people must continue therapy, treatment, programming, and classes. Failure to abide by the rules may result in sanction and/or termination from the program.

Value of Work Release Programs

Incarcerated people who complete the work release program are more likely to be successful in maintaining employment, stable housing, and in paying legal financial obligations. Additionally, recent research conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy indicates that work release programs have a positive cost/benefit impact; in fact, for every dollar spent, $3.82 is returned to the state.