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Working Toward Release

March 8, 2019

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

As inmates get ready to release from prison, many will find themselves eligible for work release. Work release is offered to eligible participants six months before release from prison and requires individuals to find a job, gives an opportunity to reconnect with family, and eases transition back into the community. Providing resources for a more successful reentry is important since approximately 96 percent of incarcerated individuals will release back into the community.

There are 12 work release facilities in Washington, housing both men and women. At the beginning of 2019, there were 644 inmates located at work release facilities across the state.

Mike Ison and Michelle Johnson work at the Olympia Work Release. Each year, they work with many people who transition through the facility.

Johnson said, “We always tell them, if you’ve got questions, concerns or anything, you can always call here. You can always check in. This is a safe place to come back to.”

Corey Cleveland transferred to work release in September. He wanted to make a change in his life and, while incarcerated, was active in programs like Strength in Families, which helps parents in prison develop skills and knowledge that focus on positive parenting. Work release can be challenging for individuals as they are now in control of their own schedules for getting to work and appointments, but Cleveland says, “The staff here are awesome and it is what you make it. You have to follow rules and do what you are supposed to do but that’s what we have to do in society.”