Prison Life - Work Assignments
The Department of Corrections is committed to maintaining and expanding offender work/training programs that develop marketable job skills, instill and promote a positive work ethic among offender workers, and reduce the tax burden of corrections. In addition to providing valuable work/training and experience for offenders, earnings from a job help the offender pay for personal items (shampoo, deodorant, etc.).
What type of jobs are available to offenders?
Work assignments fall into one of the following categories:
- Class II Industries (Tax Reduction Industries): Businesses owned and operated by the state. They produce goods and services for tax-supported and non-profit organizations. Class II manufacturing and service operations generate funds from the sale of goods and services to support their activities.
- Minimum-security offenders may also work in communities providing services at a reduced cost. Public and non-profit agencies may hire an offender crew under this type of program to work on-site at their location, provide work supervision, and pay up to minimum wage. These programs are managed and supervised by institution staff.
- Class III Industries (Institution Support Services): Managed by facility staff. Offenders who work in institutional support services may be assigned to jobs in food service, grounds keeping, laundry, maintenance, clerks, etc. These jobs are vital to institutional operations. They also provide the offender with initial training, work experience (introducing them to the work ethic), and new skills.
- Class IV Industries (Community Work Industries): Primarily supervised by Department staff at minimum-security camps. The Class IV program is designed and managed to provide service to the offender’s resident community at a reduced cost. Public and non-profit agencies may hire a Class IV offender crew to work on-site at their location. A unit of local government provides work supervision and pays the offender wages (to a maximum of the minimum wage).
- Class V Industries (Community Service Program): This program is mandated by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981 and allows for alternatives to confinement for non-violent offenders. Among these alternatives, judges may direct offenders to perform work (without compensation) for the benefit of the community. This work may be done through a program administered by Washington state, a unit of local government or by a non-profit agency.
Class II workers contribute a portion of their earnings to their cost of incarceration, the crime victims’ compensation fund and to repaying financial obligations and other debts. An additional 10 percent of gross earnings are held in a mandatory savings account available to the offender upon release. Offenders in other types of industry jobs contribute to the cost of incarceration or the crime victims’ compensation fund, as well as the repayment of debts and legal financial obligations.