Do I Really Have To Go To Jail?!? But, I Need To Go To Work!

October 8th, 2010 at 1:35

I hear this question all the time: “Do I really have to go to jail?” Typically, I then hear the following protest: “If I go to jail, I will lose my job!!!”.

Well, if you are convicted of a DUI in Washington State, the mandatory jail sentence is at least one day.  If you are convicted of a Washington State DUI and you must serve a long jail sentence, up to one year,, you may be able to serve your sentence with Work / Education Release (WER), Electronic Home Detention (EHD), in-custody Work Crew, or out of custody Work Crew (WC). These are all alternatives to serving straight in custody jail time.

Work / Education Release is an “alcohol and drug free residential program.” If you are approved for Work / Education Release, you can maintain your employment, treatment, or schooling. If you are allowed to serve your sentence on Work / Education Release, you are required to pay for your incarceration.

Electronic Home Detention (EHD) is an alternative for low-risk inmates to serve their entire or portion of their sentence an alternative by wearing electronic monitoring equipment. “Inmates” are confined to their home, except when following an approved set schedule for work, school or treatment. If you are approved for EHD by the Judge, you must place a deposit on the equipment, and pay a daily charge for the device.

Work Crew (WC) is an alternative that allows you to complete your sentence working on various work programs. Under the supervision of a Corrections Officer, you may work on tasks such as salmon habitat restoration, roadside litter cleanup, or other tasks to restore our community. If you are out of custody, you are expected to show up to work crew on time and work a minimum of 8 hours a day. If you are in-custody, you live at the residential community corrections facility and report to work crew from there.

In order to participate in either the Work / Education Release, Electronic Home Detention, or Work Crew, you must meet established statutory and program criteria. Once you are allowed to participate in these programs, you must comply with the requirements of these programs, and if you fail to comply, your sentence will be transferred to jail time.

What do you need to consider if you are allowed to participate in the alternatives? First of all, appearance is  MANDATORY, not optional. Failure to appear will result in you sitting the remainder of your time in jail. Parking is, depending on your county of incarceration, a concern. Usually, there is no designated parking for inmates. You cannot go out and move your car to avoid parking tickets.

In the Work / Education Release program, you may have additional considerations. For example, if you have a ride coming to pick you up and take you to work, you must have a licensed driver pick you up, and they must show proof of a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance before you can ride with that person.

Unauthorized stops to get gas for your car, or stop off at the store is NOT PERMITTED!

You must be able to contact corrections, or more importantly, Corrections must be able to contact you.

You may be able to use your prescription medications with a proof that the medication is your prescription.

You will be limited to a certain number of hours out of the residential community.

You will pay a fee for your incarceration which is typically based on a sliding scale.

You may have certain geographical limits based on the county’s limitations. For example, In King County, the Corrections program may not allow you to cross Puget Sound and work in Kitsap County. In Snohomish County, Corrections may not allow you to work as far north as Whatcom County. These limitations depend on the corrections policies and you need to seek approval in advance if you have geographical issues.

Participation in any of these alternative incarceration programs means that you are not living life as normal. You may have wake-up and a lights-out times. You may have a dress code. You may be limited with the personal items you can bring in.

You may see visitors assuming the corrections facility allows visitors.

This blog post is supposed to be informative and is not supposed to be a definitive list of the responsibilities of each alternative program.

If you are a current client, please view the Clients Resource Center on my website for a copy of the Snohomish County Community Corrections Program Orientation Manual. The Orientation Manual goes into more detail about fees, visiting hours, rules, violations of the program’s rules, sanctions of violations, and facility rules.  These are all very important things you need to know.

If you have any questions about your ability or opportunity to participate in the Work / Education Release program, Work Crew, or Electronic Home Detention, in Washington State and other confinement here in Washington State, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (425) 422-5818 or visit my website at

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