What you should know about Washington’s work release facilities
Q: What is the state Department of Correction’s work release program?
A: The state’s 16 work release facilities serve as a transition between prison life and returning to the community. Under the program, inmates are to find part- or full-time jobs, reconnect with family and adjust to society that may be vastly different from when they entered prison. Offenders also learn or relearn skills such as riding public transit, shopping and managing finances. When not at the facility, inmates are required to be working, although supervised visits to family members may be approved.
Q: Who is eligible for work release?
A: Men and women inmates within six months of release and whose behavior makes them eligible for minimum security.
Q: Where are DOC work release facilities?
A: There are 16 facilities in Washington, with one in Yakima County. Ahtanum View Work Release, located at 2009 S. 64th Ave., is a 60-bed facility for men and women housed in dorm style rooms. The only other Central Washington facility is in Kennewick. King County has the most, with four facilities, followed by Spokane and Pierce counties, with two each.
Q: How many people are in work release?
A: Out of 18,417 state inmates, 647 are in work release.
Q: What are the goals of work release?
A: Inmates are taught to have responsibility for themselves, and by working prior to release, they can help support their families and meet court-ordered legal fees, including restitution to victims. Inmates pay a portion of their room and board and receive help with education, substance abuse and connecting to family and support groups.
Q: What requirements are work release inmates under?
A: They are allowed outside of the facility only for work, doctor appointments and supervised outings with family members. Offenders also have to continue therapy, parenting classes, anger management training and substance abuse treatment, including Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. They also have to submit to frequent drug tests. Violations can result in disciplinary action, including being returned to prison.
Q: What type of supervision are the offenders under?
A: On-site job visits are carried out by DOC staff. Inmates are monitored on trips to and from work to ensure they aren’t stopping elsewhere. Other outings are always supervised.
Q: What are some costs of the program?
A: The average cost for each inmate is $71.18 a day. A 2007 study by the state Institute for Public Policy showed the program’s reduction in recidivism generated $3.82 for every dollar spent.