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Work Release: Recidivism and Corrections Costs in Washington State, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1996
13 pages
Publication Series
Washington State's work release program was evaluated in two studies; one used data from 2,452 male offenders released from Washington prisons in 1990 to assess the operation of work release and inmate behavior during the program, and the other focused on the recidivism of 218 offenders.
Nearly 40 percent of the first group spent part of their sentences on work release. Approximately half of the second group took part in work release. Results were mostly positive. Nearly one-fourth of all inmates released in Washington made a successful transition to the community through work release. Less than 5 percent of the work releasees committed new crimes while on work release, and 99 percent of these crimes were less serious property crimes such as forgery or theft. However, many work releasees incurred infractions, mostly for rule violations and drug possession, and one-fourth returned to prison. Thus, the time under correctional supervision was as long or longer for work release participants as for nonparticipants. Corrections costs for the two groups were similar. Overall, 56 percent of the work releasees incurred no program infractions or arrests, and another 13 percent were moderately successful in that their infractions were not serious enough to return them to prison. Findings suggest that documenting what corrections can and cannot accomplish will permit the integration of work release into a more balanced corrections strategy that would successfully return low-risk inmates to the community and thereby make room to incarcerate the truly violent offenders. Tables

Date Published: December 1, 1996