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Work Furlough Program San Diego
Inmates who are eligible for work furlough in San Diego can request to spend the remainder of their prison sentence at a work furlough facility. Work furlough allows inmates to work, or to look for work, before their sentence has ended. However, inmates have to return to the facility as soon as their workday ends.
San Diego’s work furlough program lets certain inmates spend some of their sentence in a special facility that lets them work full-time. Each county can impose its own rules and limitations on its furlough programs, so San Diego County’s may be different from programs in other areas of California.
To be eligible for San Diego’s program, inmates must be on formal probation and have spent at least 30 days in custody. Certain criminal offenses make inmates ineligible for work furlough.
Eligible inmates can apply for the program. Their applications are screened by the Probation Department’s Work Furlough Oversight division. If the inmate is in custody for a felony, he or she is required to have a criminal defense attorney complete the screening form on the inmate’s behalf.
The San Diego County Probation Department can approve or deny applications for the program. The Department has the final say in who gets to participate.
If approved, the inmate will be assigned to either the:
Both of these programs are housed at the same location: 551 South 35th Street, San Diego, CA 92113. The area is called the Work Furlough and Residential Re-Entry Center Facility. It is run by a private company called CoreCivic, which contracts with the County of San Diego.
Once in the program, the inmate will have to comply with all of its rules and requirements. The most important rule is that the inmate has to return to the work furlough facility at the end of every workday. Most participants go back and forth to work using San Diego’s public transportation system. The Facility is located close to a bus stop for Route 3, and a half-mile to a bus stop for Route 12. Some participants, though, are provided the documentation needed to drive to and from their place of work.
Not all jobs are eligible for San Diego County’s work furlough program. A workplace has to be in San Diego County. It can also be ineligible if it:
Inmates can be self-employed in the County’s work furlough program. However, the inmate is not allowed to work at the facility. He or she must have an off-site location to work. That office must have a bathroom and a landline for a phone. The inmate must take special care to provide 1099s, documentation of work, and have all of the necessary business licenses.
Aside from work, work furlough inmates are only allowed to:
Participants are not allowed to socialize, though their family and friends can visit the facility on weekends.
Work furlough program inmates are required to pay for their place in the program. In San Diego County, work furlough costs inmates $42 every day. There is also a $300 down payment. The down payment has to be made when the inmate checks into the program. Participants who do not pay the daily fee can be disciplined. They can even be sent back to prison to spend the rest of their sentence.
The goal of work furlough programs like San Diego’s is to reduce overcrowding in county jail and prisons, and to help inmates reintegrate into the community before their release.1 The programs also let inmates financially support their families while still serving jail time and custody supervision.
Inmates do not need to have a job lined up to apply to participate in work furlough. In San Diego County, inmates without a job can be approved to join the Residential Re-Entry Center (RRC). There, the inmate will be given a set amount of time to find an eligible, full-time job. They are usually given 90 days to do so.
Certain inmates are ineligible for San Diego County’s work furlough programs. Others are more likely to be denied.
Anyone who was convicted for completing or attempting certain violent or sex offenses are ineligible. This includes the following California crimes:
Inmates who are in prison for these convictions are barred from the work furlough program in San Diego.
Additionally, the Work Furlough Oversight division in the San Diego County Probation Department can deny applicants for a variety of reasons related to public safety. Factors that the Department considers include:
Some of these factors can make it very unlikely for the inmate to get approved for work furlough.
Inmates who are approved for work furlough in San Diego County, but who then violate a term of the program can be disciplined. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department can even send the worker back to prison to serve the rest of his or her jail sentence.4
San Diego’s work furlough program is different from a work-release program.
In a work furlough program, inmates return to the state facility when the workday ends. In a work-release program, the inmate is under community supervision and can go home. Because there is less confinement, work release programs are generally for lower-level offenses, like driving under the influence (DUI). Work furlough programs, including the one in San Diego, are usually for more severe offenses.
However, work furlough programs like San Diego County’s rely on dormitory-style living situations. For this reason, during the coronavirus pandemic, many judges have leaned towards house arrest and work release, rather than work furlough programs.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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