CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Featured Download: Leon on Work Release as Economic Stimulus

At the very least, this manuscript has timeliness on its side. Chrysanthi S. Leon (University of Delaware - Sociology and Criminal Justice) has posted Working Paper: Work Release as Economic Stimulus: Overview of Current and Potential Usage in the 50 States on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Work release programs are authorized by the statutes of all fifty states. Some states have clearly articulated work release programs while others are partial, with little statutory governance for their establishment or operation. Yet most correctional authorities agree that work release provides crucial transitioning into functional re-entry. As the recent crises in the California correctional system dramatized, overflowing systems can no longer be tolerated. The contemporary penal climate, which prioritizes economic efficiency and evidence-based corrections, is ripe for a re-invigoration of a tried and true technique. Therefore, in order to document the current state of work release in the U.S., we combined a review of statutory authorization with an examination of implementation. We begin by describing the reasons why work release makes sense, focusing on the example of Washington state, followed by a review of the current parameters of work release in state law. By examining how work release now works, we can suggest how best to take advantage of the interest in bringing economic efficiency to the correctional system.

The article cites statistics from the state of Washington indicating that the work-release program there in fiscal year 2007 saved taxpayers $3.82 for every dollar spent. Much of the piece addresses how various states address the many questions that arise in work release programs, such as "selection of participants, participant eligibility, specific eligibility restrictions, type of work, the control and use of their wages, the logistics of the operation of work release, and whether or not local law enforcement or the participant’s victim must be notified."  The piece also draws extensively from the Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council: Charting the Safe and Successful Return of Prisoners to the Community. Council of State Governments. Reentry Policy Council. New York: Council of State Governments. January 2005, which is available online


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I appreciate the link! There are some prisoner advocacy groups trying to provide resources for legislators interested in re-invigorating their work release. If anyone has information on particular state programs they would like to share, or if there are other scholars who would like to help us turn the working paper into an article (not really my area), please send me a note at

Posted by: Chrysanthi Leon | Aug 28, 2009 11:12:35 AM

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