Baldwin said a study two years ago found that former work-release inmates had a recidivism rate of less than 10 percent, much better than 26.8 percent re-incarceration rate for Corrections inmates statewide.
"I don't know if it was because of work-release or not, but I felt pretty good about it," she said.
Williams said work release inmates from other parts of the state frequently asked to be paroled to Charleston in order to keep their jobs.
"They want to parole to this area because they already have a job, and they get apartments here," he said.
For employers, work-release assures a dependable workforce, since inmates must either be at work or at the work release center, Williams noted.
He said there are about 20 Charleston businesses that regularly seek out work-release inmates.
"They actually tell me that our guys are more dependable," Williams said.
Work-release inmates are prohibited from taking jobs at telemarketing companies or in bars, but may work at restaurants that serve alcohol.
Current employers include Charleston hotels, grocery stores, fast-food and sit-down restaurants, hospitals, and building contractors.
Baldwin told a legislative interim committee the two biggest obstacles for the inmates are a lack of job skills and a lack of transportation.
She said inmates frequently are limited to jobs within walking distance of the work release center in Charleston's East End, since limited bus service on weekends makes it difficult to take jobs in Kanawha City or down Corridor G.
"I really think work-release is something every inmate could benefit from," Williams said.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.