An analysis of work release: The Institutionalization of Unsubstantiated Reforms

Jonathan F. Katz, Scott H. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Work release programs have been praised as a valuable correctional innovation. Four specific benefits—economic advantages, recidivism, job and family considerations, and personality and social benefits—have been cited in the literature. Like many social reforms, work release has received enthusiastic support despite the absence of methodologically sound evaluations. This article examines over forty evaluations of work release. It generally observes that there is an inverse relationship between the methodological quality of the study and the effect of work release. Those few studies with an adequate design have found that work release did not deliver the results it was designed to. In spite of this, such programs have proliferated. The authors explain this phenomena by noting that the existence of such programs satisfies often competing correctional ideologies and allows an expansion of state control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-250
Number of pages22
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Law


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