Work release programs have been implemented as an alternative to incarceration across the nation. These programs have strict requirements including that participants be non-violent offenders, have no outstanding court dates, have no outstanding warrants, complete urine screens, pay weekly program costs, and have no previous attempts to escape incarceration. Using these criteria, jail officials seek to reduce the number of inmates incarcerated for lower-level offenses, reducing costs and the exposure of these inmates to more dangerous offenders. Offenders may also participate in mental health and substance abuse treatment programs during the work release program.
Imagine that you are a victim of a property crime. The offender convicted of stealing your vehicle has been accepted into the work release program and will be leaving the local work release center (separate from the jail, but still under the direction of the corrections) to work every day. He will then be expected to return after work hours to sleep. Describe your concerns with this approach. Suppose that the offender completes his sentence and, due to the services provided, never reoffends. Address the concerns discussed by your peers. Evaluate the risks of the program raised by your peers to the benefits. Do you believe that these programs should be implemented?