Inmate Work Release Program
Author Andy Keel+
At first glance it would seem that the only ones who would benefit from the county jail having a work release program are inmates, but managed properly the county jails can come out ahead and provide employment, rehabilitation, victim compensation, and keep eligible inmates occupied who would otherwise take up space on a cell block being unproductive.
How Work Release Operates and Eligibility
When a person is found guilty of a misdemeanor crime but not sentenced to community supervision or probation, they are usually assigned jail time rather than spending it in the state prison. The amount of the time that they are going to be incarcerated for generally depends on the severity of the crime committed and how repentant the judge thought that they seemed. To more effectivly deal with long term incarceration of inmates, one of the things that some county jails are starting to implement are work release programs and community service projects using inexpensive inmate labor to reduce costs of staffing and maintaining facilities.
What a work release program is, is a program that allows certain prisoners at the jail to be temporarily released so that they can go to work, pay their fines and court costs, and also pay a percentage for the cost of their room and board while living at the county jail or work release center. The way that a work release program works is going to vary for individual county jails because each has unique security concerns. The way that one county might choose to manage their program could be completely different from the way their neighboring county handles theirs. Violent crimes in a prisoner’s past doesn't always mean they are automatically ineligible for the work release program. One thing that the public might expect to be consistant throughout all county jails is that the only prisoners who are going to be allowed to participate in the work release program are those who have been convicted of non-violent crimes but it's been found that many allowed in also include sex offenders and others predisposed to aggressive or anti-social criminal behavior.
Other conditions that could affect a prisoner’s ability to participate in the county jail’s work release program is the amount of time that they have been sentenced to. While there are lots of detention centers that don’t have a problem with inmates who are only going to be staying with them for a short period of time going to work, there are some with policies that will not grant any work release privileges to any prisoner who has been given a sentence of less than 30 days because of the amount of security or time involved to verify that the prisoner has an actual job and isn't just trying to turn a ligitimate opportunity into a means of escape.