PRESS RELEASE: Department of Corrections to Expand Work Release
Released July 2, 2019
TUMWATER – Thanks to the proactive actions of the Washington Legislature and support of Governor Inslee, the Department of Corrections is expanding its work release program. Work release facilities serve as a bridge between life in prison and life in the community. Incarcerated individuals who complete the work release program are more likely to be successful in maintaining employment, stable housing, and in paying legal financial obligations. Recent research conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy indicates that work release programs have a positive cost/benefit impact; for every dollar spent, $3.82 is returned to the state.
Incarcerated people at work release focus on transition to include finding and retaining employment, treatment programs, reconnecting with family members, developing life skills, and becoming productive members in the community. They learn and refine social and living skills in work release to create a smoother transition from prison confinement. Work release is an opportunity for self–improvement, while assisting incarcerated people in creating a safe and productive way of life that can be sustained upon release.
Currently, there are 12 work release facilities across the state, which serve 647 men and women. The average number of individuals in a work release facility is 65. The newly approved expansion will add 200 bed spaces in underserved counties. Per RCW 72.65.220, as the department facility siting process advances, the department will create a process for public participation.
Incarcerated individuals can be referred to work release 12 months prior to their earned release date. An individual 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 for work release are met.