SWAP Program FAQ
WHAT IS THE SWAP PROGRAM?
SWAP is the Travis County “Sheriff’s Weekender Alternative Program”. It allows people to do physical labor at the Travis County jail (in Del Valle) from approx. 8am-4pm instead of actually going to jail (and staying overnight). You don’t “turn yourself in”. You don’t change into jail clothes. You do whatever “work” the deputies tell you to do (with 30-40 other people) and then go home.
WHAT KIND OF WORK?
Raking leaves, cleaning bathrooms, washing cars, emptying trashcans, etc. It could be anything.
IS SWAP WORK RELEASE?
No, it is the opposite of work release. Work release is when you stay in jail overnight, but work during the day. The SWAP program is working at the jail during the day and going home at night. And to be clear, Travis County no longer has a work release program (it stopped about 20 years ago).
I’M NOT IN GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE. DO THEY HAVE ANYTHING THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE PHYSICAL LABOR?
No. You have to be healthy (and able to do physical labor) to be accepted into the program.
WHY DOES SWAP EXIST?
It is a way for the “system” to punish you without the inconvenience of incarcerating you overnight (which is expensive).
WHEN DO PEOPLE DO THE SWAP PROGRAM?
It is common for people who receive probation that requires “days in jail as a condition of probation.” For example, if you get 2 years probation with 5 days in jail as a condition, the judge may allow you to do SWAP instead of actually going to jail overnight. SWAP is also a possibility if you receive a straight jail sentence (and the judge allows you to do SWAP instead of going to jail).
IS THERE ALWAYS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO SWAP?
No. The judge must approve your attorney’s request for SWAP. Also, you must follow the rules for the SWAP program while you are in the SWAP program because the deputies can kick you out.
THE SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES CAN KICK ME OUT OF SWAP?
Yes, if you aren’t following the rules or you anger them for some reason. My advice is to be super polite.
WHEN IS THE SWAP PROGRAM AVAILABLE?
The program is on Saturday and Sunday. This means that a 5 day SWAP commitment will be Saturday, Sunday, Saturday, Sunday, Saturday. However, occasionally the SWAP program is available on weekdays. You can ask if that is available when you check in or call.
CAN I CHOOSE THE WEEKENDS I WANT TO DO IT?
The judge usually lets you choose the weekend that you start the program. The judge will typically allow you to choose a start date up to 6-10 weeks after your plea date (you should know an acceptable turn in date before your plea court date). However, once you start SWAP, the weekends must be consecutive. You can't skip days/weekends. However, I have heard of situations where the sheriff allows people to skip a day or two, but do NOT count on this. You will have to ask the deputies at the program. Neither the judge nor your attorney can tell the sheriff how to run the SWAP program.
WHERE IS THE SWAP PROGRAM?
At the Travis County Jail in Del Valle (by the airport). Building #250 at The Travis County Correctional Complex, 3614 Bill Price Rd., Del Valle, TX 78617.
OK. I’VE BEEN APPROVED FOR SWAP BY THE JUDGE. WHAT DO I DO?
Call the SWAP program 2 weeks before your turn in date. 512-854-4186. The deputies will tell you what to do.
CAN I CHANGE MY SWAP TURN IN DATE AFTER THE JUDGE OFFICIALLY SETS IT?
Your attorney can re-approach the judge and request the date be moved (with a good reason). However, the judge may not agree. Also, it may cost more money for your attorney to do this work.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T SHOW UP AT MY SWAP DATE?
A warrant will go out for you.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT IT?
Read the official SWAP court form below. It has more info.
How does the Travis County Sheriff's office describe the program?
Read their brochure below.