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August 26, 2009

Could smart prisoner release be a sound economic stimulus?

The question of this post is prompted by this provocative new (and very timely) working paper recently appearing on SSRN. The piece is titled "Work Release as Economic Stimulus: Overview of Current and Potential Usage in the 50 States," and here is the abstract:

Work release programs are authorized by the statutes of all fifty states.  Some states have clearly articulated work release programs while others are partial, with little statutory governance for their establishment or operation.  Yet most correctional authorities agree that work release provides crucial transitioning into functional re-entry.  As the recent crises in the California correctional system dramatized, overflowing systems can no longer be tolerated.  The contemporary penal climate, which prioritizes economic efficiency and evidence-based corrections, is ripe for a re-invigoration of a tried and true technique.  Therefore, in order to document the current state of work release in the U.S., we combined a review of statutory authorization with an examination of implementation.  We begin by describing the reasons why work release makes sense, focusing on the example of Washington state, followed by a review of the current parameters of work release in state law.  By examining how work release now works, we can suggest how best to take advantage of the interest in bringing economic efficiency to the correctional system.

August 26, 2009 at 02:42 PM | Permalink


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