Work Release Programs

Are offenders in work release jobs eligible for Indiana workers compensation benefits?

Note: The answer is a legal question and we do not give legal advice. The following is a discussion of the matter.


Indiana statute provides that an offender (also known as inmates) is not an employee of the “department” (IC 11-10-8-8 shown below). I assume that means the state’s correction department. So, the offender would seem to be an employee of the employer. It appears that the offender is getting paid a wage even though the wage may be surrendered to the department in some instances per the statute. This would appear to create an employer-employee relationship unless specifically excluded elsewhere in the statute.


IC 11-10-8-8; Status of offender while going to or from employment
Sec. 8. An offender employed under this chapter by an employer other than the department is not an agent, employee, or involuntary servant of the department while working or going to or from the employment.


Prison Industry Programs
As of September 2009, the State Department of Corrections website provides this information:

More than 2,000 inmates are employed in various enterprises within Prison Enterprises Network (PEN Products). Industries include: remanufacture automotive parts; food processing including frozen meat /poultry products and dairy products; metal furniture and shelving; institutional clothing; janitorial and laundry products; computer aided drafting (CAD); data conversion-GIS; printing; engraving; signage; park furniture; office and wood furniture; commercial laundry services; data entry; coil assembly; and electronic component assembly.


Indiana also participates in the Prison Industries Enterprises (PIE) federal program. Offenders in this program are paid the prevailing wage for the job, but are also responsible for paying room and board to the state, federal and state taxes, victim’s restitution, and family/child support.


PEN Products

Indiana Department of Correction

6075 Lakeside Boulevard

Indianapolis, IN 46278


Web Site:

Offenders Sentenced to Community Service

This is an area still under research. A key question would be if performing community service creates an employer/employee relationship. Also, individual circumstances might involve incarceration either before or after community service.

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