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San Diego Work Furlough: Work While Incarcerated Explained

San Diego’s work furlough programs allow eligible inmates to work in the community during the day and return to a detention facility at night, promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. These programs aim to help inmates maintain employment, support their families, and prepare for reentry into society. Participation is typically determined by the nature of the offense, behavior, and approval by correctional authorities.
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What is a Work Furlough Program?

According to JDL, work furlough is a California program that allows eligible inmates to leave jail during the day to work [1]. Not every inmate qualifies for this program; eligibility criteria include being within 120 days of release, working at least 35 hours per week, and not being excluded under Penal Code 6263. Exclusions apply to those convicted of arson, sex crimes, drug offenses, or having multiple violent crime convictions.

Reasoning Behind Furlough Programs

California Penal Code § 6260 states that work furlough programs address prison overcrowding by providing more suitable and cost-effective housing for certain inmates. These programs support reentry efforts, offering a more normal environment for inmates nearing release and helping them begin societal reintegration.

Qualification Criteria for Work Furlough

Eligible inmates must meet specific criteria, such as being within 120 days of their release date and holding a job with at least 35 hours per week. The job must allow for telephone and job site checks by furlough staff, not be related to the inmate’s offense, and not involve weapons or access to others’ personal information.

Who is Excluded from Participation in a Work Furlough Program?

According to SCLG, certain inmates are specifically excluded from participating in a work furlough program under California Penal Code 6263.2 [2].

Exclusions apply if:

  • The inmate poses an unreasonable risk to public safety.
  • The inmate has a conviction for a sex crime or arson.
  • The inmate has a history of forced escapes, drug use, sales, or addiction.
  • The inmate has a record of serious institutional misconduct.
  • The inmate has multiple convictions for violent crimes.

Work Furlough and Residential Re-Entry in San Diego

According to the San Diego Board of Supervisors, the Work Furlough (WF) and Residential Re-Entry Center (RRC) facility, operated by CoreCivic under contract with the County of San Diego, is located at 551 South 35th Street, San Diego, CA 92113 [3]. This facility houses both male and female county inmates, providing sentencing alternatives that allow inmates to maintain or search for employment while serving their custodial commitments.

Work Furlough Screening & Program Requirements

The WF/RRC facility offers a community-based custodial setting where inmates can work or job search while under supervision. Participants must demonstrate maturity and stability both within the facility and in the community. WF program participants are permitted to leave the facility for work and must return at the end of the workday, primarily using public transportation, although some are allowed to drive with proper documentation.

Participants in the Residential Re-Entry Center Program, inmates must be on formal probation with at least 30 days of actual custody time. RRC participants generally will have 90 days to secure full-time employment. They are required to attend programming and job search at the facility and in the community until employed – San Diego Board of Supervisors

Participants in both programs can attend school (if approved), religious services, and various court-ordered programs like SB38, the First Conviction Program, Anger Management, and Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous meetings offered weekly on-site. Family and friends are allowed to visit on weekends.

Each inmate’s eligibility for the WF or RRC program is reviewed individually by the Probation Department’s Work Furlough Oversight unit. Those who pose a danger to the community or fail to meet employment standards will not be accepted into the program.

Study Looks at the Effectiveness of Prison Work Release Programs

A 2015 study conducted by the Florida Department of Corrections and Tallahassee, Florida, examined the impact of work release programs in the state of Florida on recidivism and employment outcomes for people released from prison [4].

Among the researchers’ findings:

  • The authors discovered that participation in a work release program reduced the risk of arrest for a new felony or misdemeanor by approximately 10% one year after release, about 8% two years after release, and around 9% three years post-release.
  • The study revealed that individuals who completed the work release program were less likely to be reconvicted three years after release, although reconviction rates were similar between groups at one and two years post-release.
  • Participants were more likely to return to prison for any reason within one year, but return rates were comparable across groups after two or three years.
  • The report’s causal evidence quality is moderate for recidivism outcomes, indicating some confidence that the program contributed to reduced recidivism, though other factors may have played a role.
  • For employment outcomes, the evidence quality is low, suggesting that the program’s impact on employment is uncertain and likely influenced by other variables.

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