Work Release Policy & Qualifying Criteria

The mission of the York County Prison Work Release Program is to allow inmates placed on the program to maintain their employment while serving their sentence. Some inmates are able to secure employment while in York County Prison (YCP) in order to fulfill a Domestic Relations order or to accept a new job offer.

In order to be able to apply or qualify for Work Release, a person must be sentenced on all charges. If on bail for another charge, you will be allowed to apply, but that charge will be noted on your application.

Applying for Work Release

If you are not in prison when sentenced on your charges, your attorney needs to notify the sentencing judge of your request for work release. In the majority of cases, individuals are given 2 to 4 weeks before being required to report to prison. You (not your attorney) must contact the YCP Work Release Center as soon as possible to make an appointment to apply for work release. To contact the Work Release Center call 717-840-7470 between 8 am and 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

At the time of your call, be prepared to provide staff with all of the following information:

  • Your personal information (name, address, Social Security Number , date of birth, etc.)
  • Your employer's business name, address of employer, and employer's phone Number
  • The names of both your supervisor and the Human Resources Director/manager
  • Work Hours
  • Rate of Pay
  • Pay date
  • Means of transportation to and from the job site

Also, at the time of your call, you will be given an appointment date and time to come to the Work Release Center for an application process of approximately 30 minutes. You will view a video covering the rules of the Work Release Center, sign paperwork, and be interviewed by staff. You may be asked to provide past work/tax history, and if that is the case, you will be directed as to how you may obtain that information.

If an individual is currently incarcerated in YCP, the employer starts the application process for work release. The employer must contact the Work Release Center at any of the phone numbers listed above, and request the individual's return to employment or the start of new employment. If the employer is unknown to YCP, the employer may be asked to provide proof of payroll and both Workers' Compensation and liability insurance.


Offenders can be made eligible by the Court. The Warden must approve everyone for Work Release eligibility. If an inmate is made eligible for the Work Release Program by court order, but jail officials find that under 42 CSA sec. 9813 (c) this is not appropriate, the Court shall be notified in writing of the decision to exclude the person from the program.

Eligibility Criteria that are considered when approving or disapproving an individual for Work Release:

  • Criminal charges - Any charge of violent or sexual nature will be automatically excluded from the program.
  • Past criminal history - A past criminal history of violent or sexual offenses, along with open or pending charges will contribute to a denial of the work release application. If current reason for incarceration is a probation violation (PV), the decision for approval/disapproval is based on the original charge (For example: A PV with the original charge of Simple Assault would be treated as Simple Assault).
  • Past work history - Lack of prior legal employment will be cited as a negative factor. If you have no tax/work history or have been working in an "under the table" manner, you will not be recommended for work release, even if current employment is legitimate.
  • Legitimacy of employment offer - The employer will need to be informed of the individual's placement on work release and agree to work with the prison in notification of any factors as needed. As a payroll employer, payroll and insurance information may need to be given to YCP. All employers have the right to deny an individual's work release status. In addition, the prison will not recommend someone becoming either the first employee or the first payroll employee of a business.
  • Dependable transportation to and from work - A work release inmate may drive himself or herself to and from employment if they provide staff with proof of current license, insurance, and registration. There is a 2-mile walking distance limit for individuals to walk to and from work. A pedal bike may be used up to 5 miles from YCP, but the individual would need major medical insurance, along with all safety equipment. The following means of transportation are not allowed at this time: York area taxi service due to unreliability of service.
  • Current and past behavioral adjustment at YCP - Past disciplinary reports and any past failure to complete the Work Release Program will be cited in future applications.
  • Self-Employment - This is allowed by YCP, but you must have a past self-employment tax history. If the business has not been established long enough to have a tax history, the application will not be recommended. Tax filings done in a manner to catch-up prior to serving prison sentence will be treated the same as a lack of history.
    Prison policy is that the self-employment be legal prior to sentencing. The business cannot become legal for sentencing.
    In addition, a self-employed person is required to carry a major medical policy with a $1,000,000 umbrella and a $250 deductible, along with a $1,000,000 liability policy. Being covered by a spouse's insurance will not suffice. Also, a business that is home-based will need to be permitted by the township where it is located. Door-to-door sales are greatly discouraged by the prison.

General Rules

  • Travel Limits - Work release travel to job site is limited to a 75-mile radius from YCP.
  • Traveling with other inmates - This is allowed only when the employer provides the transportation.
  • Medication - During intake, medical personal must be made aware of all medication that a person takes. Any prescription that a person receives in prison must be cleared by the Medical Department.
  • Domestic Relations Charge - If an individual is sentenced on a Domestic Relations charge, he or she must be a payroll (W-2) employee. 2 forms of identification will be needed to be Federally I-9. Being self-employed or receiving a 1099 will disqualify an individual for work release serving a domestic relations sentence.