Special Reports

How we did the research

The story of the work-release class of 2005 relied on independent research of public records culled from the state Department of Corrections, Pierce and King county superior courts and commercial databases linked to statewide court records and state criminal history records.

The research began with several questions:

 • How many work-release inmates had never been convicted of a crime in Pierce County?

 • How many work-release inmates received their first criminal conviction outside Pierce County?

 • What crimes did the inmates commit?

 • How many inmates were convicted of new crimes after their work-release stints, and where were the crimes committed?

 • How many inmates had entered work release more than once?

Research identified all state convicts admitted to Pierce County work-release centers in 2005.

Some entered as temporary transfers from other work-release sites, typically because of obligations requiring a court appearance. Those inmates were excluded from the total, because they initially were assigned to work-release centers outside Pierce County.

The inmate’s names then were matched to a state database of all work-release admissions in Washington from 1993 to 2005. That database revealed inmates with multiple work-release visits, the year of entry and the facilities where they were admitted.

The next research step examined the individual criminal histories of 449 Pierce County work-release inmates – the class of 2005. Those histories revealed seven “crime warp” inmates – felons without a prior criminal history in Pierce County, who were convicted or charged with new crimes in Pierce County after a work-release stint here.

In many cases, the criminal histories came from sentencing documents filed in court. Such records list the defendant’s prior convictions by location and year. In cases where court documents were unavailable, commercial databases provided criminal history information.

Juvenile convictions were excluded from tallies of overall convictions.

Sean Robinson, The News Tribune