After a long term in prison, selected offenders are slowly reintegrated back into society with a job and enhanced prospects for stability. Research has shown that offenders who have the opportunity to re-enter the community after a stay in a transitional center are up to a third more likely to succeed in maintaining a crime-free life.
There are 13 Transitional Centers in operation with 2,683 transitional center beds available statewide and , two Transitional Centers are designated to house female offenders. An offender must be referred for the program by either the State Board of Pardons and Paroles or the prison staff. The decision about which offenders to send to a transitional center is based on criminal history, behavior while incarcerated, and a number of other factors. Many of the Transitional Centers are located in renovated buildings.
One function of the transitional centers is to provide "work release", allowing the offender to obtain and maintain a paying job in the community while requiring him or her to conform to the structure of the center. The offender lives in the center, participates in a number of programs, and completes assignments to contribute to the upkeep of the center. The wages earned by work release offenders are sent directly to the center.
Employers are required to deduct taxes as appropriate. A portion of the wages is applied to room and board and another portion to any outstanding fines, fees, or restitution. If the offender has minor children, he or she is required to provide family support for them. The offender may have a small allowance for transportation and incidentals, but all other funds are placed in an account until he is released from the center. Most offenders stay in a work release program for approximately six months and are then released on parole or, if the entirety of their sentences has been fulfilled, to the community.
The transitional centers also provide housing for low risk "maintenance" workers. These offenders are not participants in the work release programs although they may have access to the programs in the centers. The maintenance offenders are assigned full time to maintain the facility or other state facilities in the area. For example, approximately half of the offenders assigned to the Atlanta Transitional Center are maintenance workers who provide details to the Governor's Mansion, the State Capitol Complex, and the State Highway Patrol Headquarters. These offenders are not paid any wages. They may stay at the facility for longer periods of time.
Many transitional centers are in renovated buildings.
There are fifteen transitional centers, including two for women. There are a total of 2,986 transitional center beds available with 347 beds for female offenders. The daily cost to house an offender in a transitional center is off-set by the offender's contribution to their room and board provided by the State. In addition, offenders on work release contribute to the local tax base and to their families' support.