How to Get Work Release Furlough in Lieu of Jail in California?

Work release furlough (“WF”) is a correctional program that allows certain inmates to be transitioned into a county-based institution and:

  1. leave the facility during the day to attend regular work, and
  2. return to the institution immediately after work for confinement purposes.

Work furlough programs are usually reserved for those inmates that are:

  • within 120 days of their scheduled release date from jail,
  • gainfully employed for at least 35 hours per week, and
  • not otherwise excluded under Penal Code 6263.

According to PC 6263, some of the factors that may exclude an inmate from a work release program are:

If an inmate is qualified for a work release program, he may request the court to be transferred into one. The judge assigned to the inmate's case has the ultimate authority to grant or deny this request.

Note that if an inmate violates a work furlough condition, he can be forced to return to county jail to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Also if this violation is a new criminal offense, then the inmate may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts involved.

Per Penal Code 6260, the main reasons for work furlough programs include:

  1. they help alleviate the issue of overcrowding in California correctional institutions,
  2. other methods of housing should be available and developed for state inmates, and
  3. reentry programs for inmates help provide them an opportunity to begin reintegrating into society.

Note that a work furlough program is not the same thing as a work release program. In the latter, an inmate is allowed to go to his home after work hours, rather than going back to a state monitored facility for confinement purposes.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

uncuffed hands work furlough

1. What is a work furlough program and how does it work?

A work furlough facility essentially is a county-based facility that allows inmates to work a regular job while still serving jail time via custody supervision.

Once in a WF program, inmates can check out of the facility in the morning in order to go to work. Inmates are then required to check back into the program as soon as a workday is completed. The majority of inmates are required to take California public transportation to and from their jobs.

In addition to work, some inmates in a WF program can even attend:

  • school,
  • religious services, and
  • programs like Anger Management.

WF facilities do allow visitors on weekends.

2. Who is qualified to get work furlough in lieu of jail in California?

Work furlough programs are usually reserved for those inmates that are:

  1. within 120 days of their scheduled release date from jail, and
  2. not otherwise excluded from WF under Penal Code 6263 (please see section 3).1

In addition, to qualify for WF, an inmate must be gainfully employed for at least 35 hours per week. And, there are usually rules regarding the type of job an inmate performs. For example, a job:

  • must allow on-site job checks and telephone checks by WF staff,
  • cannot be directly related to the offense an inmate committed,
  • cannot involve the use of weapons, and
  • cannot involve access to another person's personal information.

If an inmate meets these qualifications, then he can request the court to assign him to a work furlough program. Note that the judge has the authority to either grant or deny this request.

3. Are certain offenders excluded from a work furlough program?

Certain inmates are purposely excluded from a work furlough program under California Penal Code 6263.2 An inmate is excluded if:

  1. he would pose an unreasonable risk to the public,
  2. his conviction was for a crime involving sex or arson,
  3. he has a history of forced escape, or of drug use, sales, or addiction,
  4. he has a history of serious institutional misconduct, or
  5. has more than one conviction for a violent crime.3
prisoner returning to jail

4. What happens if a person violates any condition imposed by a work furlough facility?

If an inmate violates a work furlough condition, he can be forced to return to jail to serve out the remainder of his sentence.4

Also, if this violation is a new criminal offense, then the inmate may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts involved.

Note that inmates transferred to a WF program remain under the legal custody of the California Department of Corrections. This provides the department with the authority to place an inmate in a WF program back into jail at any time.5

5. Does a person have to pay for this program?

Per California Penal Code 6266 PC, a WF facility may charge an inmate reasonable fees to enter its program.6 The amount to be charged, though, is dependent on the inmate's ability to pay.7

In addition, an inmate cannot be denied placement in a work furlough program based on his inability to pay fees.8

6. What is the reasoning to have these programs?

The California State Legislature has voiced specific reasons for WF programs, and these are codified in Penal Code 6260. These are:

  1. they help alleviate the issue of overcrowding in California correctional institutions,
  2. other methods of housing should be available and developed for state inmates, and
  3. reentry programs for inmates help provide them an opportunity to begin reintegrating into society.9

7. What are some work furlough programs in specific California counties?

Work furlough programs are offered in many California counties. Some of these include:

  • Los Angeles County,
  • Orange County,
  • Riverside County,
  • San Diego County, and
  • Alameda County.

Note that the cost and rules for WF facilities may slightly differ among differing counties – often with rules stricter than those outlined above.

7.1. Wok furlough in Los Angeles County

WF in Los Angeles County costs approximately $75-$127 per day. Payment is typically accepted in two-day increments, with the first two weeks due up front.

An inmate is typically disqualified from the program if his arresting charge involved violence in any way. History of violence will also disqualify an inmate.

If an inmate takes any medication, it must be first approved by the facility manager before he can use it.

Note that inmates in an LA County WF program are often subject to strip searches on their return to the facility after work.

7.2. Work furlough in Orange County

The cost of work furlough in Orange County is around $150 for the first day and $100 for each day thereafter. Payment is accepted either in full or in two-week increments, with the first two-weeks due on or before the first day of the program.

Prior to being admitted into the WF program, all inmates must:

  • interview with a Correctional Sergeant to determine eligibility,
  • complete a Medical Screening Application,
  • sign a contract that sets forth Rules of Conduct, and
  • agree to work in or around the facility.

The Orange County WF facility considers applicants on a case by case basis.

Note that participants in the program are not required to wear tracking devices while not in the facility – which is normal among most programs.

7.3. Work furlough in Riverside County

The information regarding Riverside County work furlough programs is consistent with the other counties previously discussed.

Program costs range from $75-$125 per day. Payment is typically accepted in two-day increments, with the first two weeks due up front.

If an inmate committed a violent offense, he usually will not be allowed in the program. However, inmates are allowed to contact the facility manager who will investigate into each request for acceptance.

Visitors are normally allowed on the weekends during set hours. The visits are non-contact.

7.4. Work furlough in San Diego County

WF in San Diego County costs $42 per day and there is a $300 down payment that is due upon an inmate reporting to the facility.

If a person refuses to make a payment on the date it is due, he becomes subject to disciplinary sanctions and can be transferred to jail.

Inmates in the San Diego facility can attend school during work furlough. To do so, though, the inmate must be working at least 35 hours per week.

Those in the WF program can also be self-employed. If an inmate is, he cannot work out of the facility. He must have an off-site office with a landline and bathroom.

7.5. Work furlough in Alameda County

Alameda County WF facilities operate consistently with the information provided above.

Program costs range from $75-$125 per day. Payment is typically accepted in two-day increments, with the first two weeks due up front.

Those in the program are responsible for getting to and from work. They are encouraged to use public transportation to get to their job.

Note, though, that if public transportation is not practical, inmates may be authorized to drive their own vehicle if they provide the following:

  • a valid California driver's license,
  • proof of insurance, and
  • proof of valid, current vehicle registration.

8. Is a work furlough program the same thing as a work release program?

WF is not the same as work release.

As stated above, in a work furlough program, an inmate must return to a state monitored facility at the end of a workday for confinement purposes.

In a work release program, an inmate is allowed to go to his home after work hours.

California Penal Code 4024.2 PC sets forth the requirements for a work release program. One of the main requirements is that the work an inmate performs must be of a manual nature. Some examples include:

  • cleaning up graffiti,
  • picking up trash along a highway, or
  • helping elders with yard work.

An inmate can request a work release program provided that he has not been convicted of a serious offense.

Were you convicted of a crime in California and are interested in learning more of a work furlough program? Call us for help…

california legal defense
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know is interested in a work furlough program, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 6261 PC.

  2. California Penal Code 6263 PC.

  3. See same.

  4. California Penal Code 6263c PC.

  5. See same.

  6. California Penal Code 6266 PC.

  7. See same.

  8. See same.

  9. California Penal Code 6260 PC.

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