The Minnesota Prison Work Release Program was designed to help participants make a successful transition from prison to the community through stable housing, support, and employment after their release. The specific goals of the program are to increase post-prison employment and ultimately reduce recidivism. The program is run by the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MnDOC).
Once individuals in prison are approved for the work-release program, they are transferred from the MnDOC facility to a county jail or a community corrections residential facility. While on work release, participants are expected to obtain steady employment or participate in approved vocational programming. Participants are randomly drug and alcohol tested. Those who are assessed as chemically dependent are required to participate in treatment programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or relapse-prevention programs). Participants are also expected to use a portion of their income (an average of $7.00 per day) to pay the work-release housing costs and court-ordered restitution. Participants who have difficulty finding employment are referred to community programs that assist offenders in developing job-seeking skills.
Participants complete work release when they reach their original, supervised release date. They fail work release if they violate program rules, fail to follow the conditions of furloughs/passes, and/or fail to remain law abiding. Violating the conditions of work release can result in sanctions ranging from loss of privilege to revocation and return to prison.
Individuals in prison are eligible to participate if they are within 8 months of being released from prison and have served at least half of their sentence. When they are within 1 year of being released to supervision, they may submit applications for work release. Due to public safety considerations, the program is geared more toward those of lower-risk. Persons convicted of sex crimes, or have a high-recidivism risk, poor prison behavior, or are predatory-type individuals are prohibited from participating in the program.