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Program Profile: Wichita (Kansas) Work Release Program

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on April 17, 2017

Program Summary

This is a reentry program designed to facilitate selected individuals’ transition from incarceration to community living by providing work opportunities outside of correctional facilities and less structured housing alternatives. The program is rated Promising. Program completers had significantly lower recidivism rates, compared with comparison group members who did not participate in the program, at the 3-year follow-up period.

Program Description

Program Goals
The goal of the Wichita Work Release program is to reduce recidivism by facilitating the transition of selected low-risk individuals from incarceration into community living by providing work opportunities outside of correctional facilities as well as less structured housing alternatives. The program offers a less restrictive institutional structure and the opportunity for former inmates to begin making limited choices through their work experience, which is designed to help them transition back into the community as law-abiding citizens.
Program Components
Participants are placed in jobs outside of the correctional facility, where they can begin developing employment skills and community ties. Participants can earn wages, which can help to pay restitution, court costs, child support, and help to offset costs of incarceration. Part of the Work Release Program is a vocational training component, in which participants can be trained in a variety of fields such as automotive repair, building maintenance, food service, electronics, printing, carpentry, landscaping, barbering, commercial art, janitorial services, plumbing, and dry cleaning.
Target Population
The Department of Corrections operates work release at five prisons across Kansas: four prisons for males and one prison for females. The program’s target population is low-risk inmates who are within 10 months of projected release from prison (or within 12 months of release for special cases).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
The evaluation of the Work Release Program by the Kansas Department of Corrections (2009) found that recidivism rates were lower for program completers (30.4 percent), compared with non-program participants in the comparison group (36.2 percent), which is a significant difference.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
The Kansas Department of Corrections (2009) conducted a quasi-experiential design with a non-equivalent comparison group to examine the effectiveness of the Wichita Work Release Program. 
The program was determined to be “service-based,” in which all could participate if enough program slots were available, and those not participating in the work release program could comprise the comparison group. The study sample included 507 inmates who completed the work release program and 5,596 who could have participated, but did not because not enough slots were available. 
The primary outcome of interest was recidivism, measured as new commitments to prison (including probation violators with or without new sentences) admitted and released between 1995 and 2008. Data on the outcomes at a 3-year follow-up period was collected from the Kansas Department of Corrections records.
There were several limitations to this study. The study did not employ an experimental design and there was minimal information about the similarities between the treatment and comparison groups at baseline. In addition, data for the treatment group only included program completers; it is unclear how program completers compared with program non-completers. There was also a potential for selection bias regarding those who were admitted to the program. To be eligible, participants must have achieved minimum custody and maintained appropriate behavior prior to admission. This could have resulted in differences between those admitted to the program and those not admitted, which would have influenced the results.
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It was reported that from FY 2004 to FY 2008, Work Release participants paid $5,579,505 into the State General Fund, paid obligations of $617,405, and provided a savings of $283,174 in dress-out and gratuity (Kansas Department of Corrections 2009).
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Other Information

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The 2009 evaluation by the Kansas Department of Corrections also looked at completers versus non-completers of the Work Release Program. There were three groups evaluated: completers, non-volitional non-completers, and volitional non-completers. The recidivism rate at the 3-year follow-up period was 30.4 percent for program completers, 34.8 percent for non-volitional non-completers, and 49.7 percent for volitional non-completers. The results showed that, compared with the comparison group who did not participate in the program (who had a recidivism rate of 36.2 percent at the 3-year follow up), non-volitional non-completers had a similar rate of return to prison, and volitional non-completers had a higher rate of return to prison.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Kansas Department of Corrections. 2009. Offender Programs Evaluation. Topeka, Kan.: Kansas Department of Corrections.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Lee, Kyu Man. 1983. The Wichita Work Release Center: An Evaluative Study (Kansas). PhD diss., Kansas State University. (This study was reviewed but did not meet Crime Solutions' criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)

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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

Corrections-Based Vocational Training Programs
Vocational training or career technical education programs in prison are designed to teach inmates about general employment skills or skills needed for specific jobs and industries. The practice is rated Promising in reducing recidivism, and in having a significant impact on participants obtaining employment following release from prison. Their odds were 28 percent higher than inmates who had not participated in training.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Employment & Socioeconomic Status - Job placement
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Both

Geography: Rural, Suburban

Setting (Delivery): Correctional, Other Community Setting

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Vocational/Job Training

Targeted Population: Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center