Indianapolis Men and Women's Work Release Program

Indianapolis Men and Women's Work Release Program

The Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s Work Release Centers are Indiana’s largest work-release programs [] Both minimum-security facilities are operated by the Indiana Department of Correction and are located in Indianapolis. [] The men’s and women’s facilities are separate; each houses only adults in dormitory style housing. On average, the daily population in the men’s facility is 138 while the women’s is 79 [] The Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s Work Release Centers are examples of residential alternative sentencing options in Indiana as compared to traditional incarceration.


The Indianapolis Men’s Work Release Center was opened in 1969 with the Indianapolis Women’s Work Release Center following nine years later in 1978. While the men’s facility was originally located on North Senate Street, Indianapolis, it soon moved to its present location at 448 W. Norwood Street, Indianapolis. It opened with only nine beds, but by 2006 the population had expanded to 144 beds. The women’s facility has always been located at 512 E. Minnesota Street, Indianapolis. It now holds 82 women. Both facilities have expanded in recent years, reflecting a larger focus on re-entry within the Indiana Department of Correction.

Although the existence of these two centers has never been threatened, their purpose and effectiveness have been called into question several times throughout their history. Perhaps the greatest threat was posed by the state’s reaction to a murder committed by an inmate on a day pass from a different institution.

Alan Matheny was incarcerated at Pendleton Correctional Facility (IN) on charges of battery and confinement of his ex-wife, Lisa Bianco, when he was released on an eight-hour pass to Indianapolis. Instead of going to Indianapolis, he went to Mishawaka, changed his clothes, and took a shotgun from the house of a friend. Matheney parked his vehicle a few doors down from the house of Bianco and broke into the house via the back door. Bianco ran and Matheney chased after her down the street. He caught her and beat her to death with the shotgun. At trial, Matheney argued that he was legally insane. While one psychiatrist did find that Matheney had some personality disorders, none of the professionals who examined Matheney found that he was legally insane at the time of the crime. Matheney was sentenced to death by lethal injection. The execution was carried out on September 28, 2005 [] after Governor Mitch Daniels denied the request for clemency. [] The newly elected Governor at the time of the incident, Evan Bayh, responded by closing many of the state’s work release programs and dismantling as many alternate sentencing options as possible in the state. [] After being evaluated by the Indiana Department of Correction, no changes were made to the Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s Work Release program.

In 2006, Indiana’s Commissioner of Correction David Donahue, moved towards privatizing the program.. It was decided that they would be allowed to remain public as long as the facilities continued to meet all state guidelines and lowered the operating costs per diem.


Requirements at the Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s Work Release Center are the same for all participants. The program releases each man and woman early in the morning until late in the afternoon. This time is used for job searching and employment. Gaining employment is mandatory in the program. The income from this employment is used to pay fees that are assessed by the Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s Work Release Center. Participants must also pay the Indiana Violent Victim’s Assistance Program and all court ordered support, fees, and fines.

If a participant has specific psychological or medical needs, counseling and physical treatment is provided for a small fee. Regular group support meetings are available but not required. No counseling, either group or individual, is required as part of the Work Release program for either men or women.

Other Indianapolis Work Release Programs

In addition to the two Department of Correction Work Release facilities, Indianapolis has two private facilities run Volunteers of America. Volunteers of America is a private, non-profit, Christian based organization that the DOC has contracted with to open the two work release facilities, Brandon Hall and Theodora House. It is a transition program lower than a minimum-security penitentiary. Brandon Hall houses 180 men and Theodora House houses 80 women. Both are operating at maximum capacity and are for adults only. []

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