Who is Eligible for Work Release?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Work Release in Washington DUI Cases

Work release facilities are meant to provide a bridge for an individual between life in prison and being back in the community. Work release allows individuals to focus on their transition from incarceration to freedom, while helping them find and keep employment and develop other work and life skills.

The community supervises the work release employee with the help of the department of corrections (DOC). This step is normally the last one in the process before the terms of his or her incarceration are complete.

Work Release Eligibility

An individual who is incarcerated can be referred to the work release program, at least 12 months prior to their release date.

If an incarcerated person has six months left on his or her sentence, he or she may also be eligible to complete the remainder of this time in a work release facility; if the incarcerated person has a record of good behavior and has been assigned the “Minimum 1” custody level. There also must be availability for bed space at a work release facility.

During the time the person is on work release, they must abide by the rules of the program, and they must actively search for and retain employment. They will also be randomly drug tested for substance abuse and can only miss work for very limited circumstances. Any violation of these rules can result in the person being terminated from the program.

Work Release for a DUI

Work release is available for many criminal offenses, and this list includes a DUI. Work release can be an alternative to jail time because it allows the defendant to work during the day and report to the corrections facility in the evening after work. Essentially, it allows defendant’s facing time in custody the opportunity to keep their jobs

However, to qualify, the individual must be approved by the local corrections facility. The individual will also be “charged” by the day for the “opportunity to work.” In some counties, the person must be sentenced to a certain amount of jail time before that person can become eligible for work release.

In some locations, work release is not an option, leading to other options, such as electronic home monitoring and/or community service.

Traditionally, work release has been a steady alternative to serving a jail sentence. Especially if the sentence was a second or third offense and the individual is required to spend extensive time in custody; work release might enable this individual to keep their job.

However, work release has changed in recent years. More and more counties are claiming that higher costs are associated with work release which prohibits them from offering this possibility. It is for this reason that many jurisdictions are now beginning to no longer offer this option.

In 2017, the state legislature made major changes to the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. It was debated that the dwindling jurisdictions offering work release played a factor in these changes. Of these changes, if a person served an increased amount of his or her sentence on home detention, the mandatory jail sentence was reduced.

Individuals who were facing a conviction for a second DUI in a seven-year period faced a sentence of 30 to 45 days incarceration with 60 to 90 days of electronic home monitoring before the changes. However, that jail time can now be reduced to four to six days with the time of electronic home monitoring being increased to 180 days.

The individual can still apply to have the ability to continuing working outside of the home while on electronic home monitoring, similar to work release, but the facility or location where the person is staying has now been changed to the person’s home, as monitored.

However, while the cost for keeping the person in the jail facility has been reduced, the amount of time that he or she will be on electronic home monitoring comes with its own added costs.

Certain jurisdictions still offer work-release, but their locations are less and less and have certain limiting factors. To discuss how work release or working while under electronic home monitoring would work on your case, it is recommended that you speak with a DUI defense attorney.