Special Reports

Background on work-release programs

What is work release?

The state Department of Corrections describes the program as “a bridge between prison and life outside of prison.”

Offenders stay in work-release centers and work in the community during the day, with partial monitoring by the state. Inmates search for jobs with assistance from corrections counselors.

The money they earn goes toward taxes and legal obligations, such as restitution and incarceration costs, as well as their own savings.

Who qualifies?

All state inmates except those convicted of first-degree murder or first-degree rape. To qualify, inmates must first earn “minimum custody” status, which reflects good behavior in prison. Inmates meet with prison counselors, who assess their potential success in a work-release program. They must agree to participate, and sign a contract agreeing to abide by work-release rules.

How long does an inmate stay in work release?

As long as six months, but the average stay is four months.

What do inmates do while on work release?

Apart from working, inmates must take part in frequent tests for substance abuse, as well as therapy, parenting classes, anger management training and substance abuse groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

What restrictions do they have on their movements?

They’re confined unless they work or are on a supervised outing to visit family members. The outings are always in the presence of a sponsor who has undergone a criminal background check and adjudged responsible for the offender’s actions.

Inmates are monitored on their trips back and forth to work to ensure their movements allow enough time to get to work without any pre-arranged stops. They’re also monitored for appropriate behavior in the workplace and other locations.

How many centers are there in Pierce County?

Three – Progress House, 5601 Sixth Ave.; Lincoln Park House, 3706 Yakima Ave., and RAP House, 3704 Yakima Ave.

How many centers in the state?


What’s the capacity of the three Pierce County work-release centers?

Progress House, 75; Lincoln Park, 30; RAP, 20.

What’s the population of all work-release centers statewide?

684, as of July 31, 2006.