What Is Work Release from Prison, and How Does It Work?

What Is Work Release from Prison, and How Does It Work?

Work release is a form of conditional release from prison. The Bureau of Prisons considers it part of its “reentry” efforts. It allows incarcerated people to leave prison to work at a job. Work release can look very different depending on your situation.

What does work release look like?

Work release comes in many different forms. Where you are incarcerated, what your crime was and other factors can play a role in how work release looks for you.

  • Daily release. In some cases, you can leave in the morning to go to work and return when your shift is over. You must report back each evening.
  • Week-long release. Some work release programs are more lenient. They will let you stay at home Monday through Friday (or another five-day stretch) to work. Then, you will report back to jail or prison for a two-day weekend.
  • Halfway house. Another form of work release is community supervision in a halfway house. In this case, you will live in a shared home with other people in similar situations. You will be allowed to leave to work, but you will have a curfew you have to obey.
  • House arrest. This is similar to halfway house, except you will serve this in your own home instead of a shared one. Like house arrest, you will have a curfew. You may also have to wear an ankle monitor that tracks your movements.

Can anyone get work release?

No. Work release is considered a privilege. Not everyone is eligible. Some people are not allowed to participate in work release programs. Your eligibility on the prison and work release programs involved. However, there are some common factors prisons consider.

  • The type of offense. Some people are not eligible for work release based on their crimes. This usually includes people convicted of sex crimes or violent crimes.
  • Your behavior in prison. Work release is often used as a reward for “good” behavior in prison. Prisoners with violations on their record usually won’t get work release.
  • Time left on your sentence. Prisons usually only offer work release towards the end of your sentence. When prisons start considering you for work release depends on where you are incarcerated.

These are just a few examples. Like most prison issues, work release programs are complex and differ between systems.

You can work any job that will hire you when you are on work release from prison.
Image courtesy of Rex Roberts via Unsplash.

How will you find a job for work release?

You can work anywhere that will hire you when you are on work release. That said, you can apply for jobs just like you would on the outside. Depending on your access to information, you might be able to look for jobs online. If you don’t have open internet access, you can look for jobs in a newspaper. In some cases, your facility might even help you find work. Some prison systems invite community organizations to help currently incarcerated people find work. These groups can help line you up with opportunities.

The Takeaway:

Work release from prison is a form of conditional release. Prisoners on work release can leave prison to work at a job. But they are still in custody. Whether you can get work release depends on many factors, including your criminal history, your behavior in prison, the time left on your sentence and more. You can look for a job just as you would on the outside. But many prisons help you look for a work-release job, too.

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