Federal Halfway Houses
Many inmates making the transition from being in jail or prison, to the so called “real world” have nowhere to go. They have no home, no job, or even family to help support them. This is why inmates who have been incarcerated for over a certain amount of time should be offered a stay at a “half-way house” because it helps them regain social skills needed for functioning in society and prevents recidivism, it helps them find a job, and can also help them with past addictions.
Some studies show that inmates released back into society with no help from outside sources had a much greater chance of being re-incarcerated. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics webpage “Recidivism”, “During 2007 a total of 1,180,469 persons on parole were at risk for re-incarceration. Of these parolees 16% were returned to incarceration in 2007.”(n.p.) Although it doesn’t point out exactly what these inmates were re-incarcerated for, maybe if they were put into a halfway house before being put back into society they would have had a greater chance of success. Federal halfway houses are designed so that inmates don’t return to prison. This being said, there are many requirements that need to be met by an inmate to even be considered for a halfway house. There are five main factors that are considered when an inmate is looking into a halfway house. Many of these reasons have to do with the inmate’s criminal charges and behavior while in prison. The first thing the inmate’s care team does is take a look at why the inmate is in prison in the first place. This helps them with keeping out violent inmates, or inmates who possibly don’t want the help. The second thing they look at is the house’s current resources. If they don’t have the people to meet the needs of that particular inmate, they might refer him/her to come back at a different time, or refer the inmate to a different halfway house that can meet their particular needs. The third thing they look at is the inmate’s characteristics and personal history. If he/she has a past with fighting or causing trouble in the prison, they most likely won’t be looked at to get help, although this doesn’t necessarily ban them from getting help. The fourth thing they look at is statements that were made at the inmates hearing. If the inmate shows interest in getting help or wanting to get better, they might also be referred to a halfway house, although asking for help isn’t a requirement or a direct “in”. The final thing they look at is any sentencing information released by the Sentencing Commission. This will tell them if the inmate is even eligible for getting out of prison, and whether or no they are capable of getting help. If they are found to be eligible, and get into a program, they get a lot of help to get on their feet. Halfway houses can be a crucial step in inmates regaining their social skills needed for functioning in society and preventing recidivism. During their stay here they are given very structured schedules and activities so that it can help them readjust to life outside of the prison walls, and maintain their place in society. After being in such a structured environment for so long, they get used to the routine, so getting out of it can be sort of difficult for some inmates. Most know, they get three meals, at three exact times every day, and they have a place to sleep at night. So why not go back? This is what halfway houses are for: to help inmate’s survive on their own, and provide for themselves. Another goal of halfway houses is to help these people get a job, and sometimes further their education.
Another benefit of federal halfway houses is to make sure that the inmates have a job, and they can also get specialized training for some jobs. According to “Purpose of Federal Halfway houses”, “Inmates are responsible for working 40 hours a week and paying 25 percent of their gross income to the facility to cover their housing costs.”(n.p.) This helps them with the concept of rent, and also being able to hold a steady job. This is crucial for inmates to learn because if they can’t keep a steady job, and have a steady income they’ll lose their house and have no place to stay, which will most likely put them back in the situation they were in before they went to jail.
The final benefit of halfway houses is that they provide counseling for past addictions. They can play a very important part in helping inmates get over their drug or alcohol addictions by providing a residential drug abuse program that can help with relapse. Inmates are supervised 24/7, but they do have visitation where they can leave with family, for work, counseling, or personal time. Although this gives them a lot of freedom drug and alcohol tests are regularly administered. Staff from the halfway houses as well as supervisors stay in close contact with the inmate’s support system and job to make sure they are doing well. According to Leah Waldron, “85% of inmates incarcerated are in there for drug related charges.”(n.p.) This is an important step to the recovery process, as well as helping the inmates be able to function in society without their drug of choice. That is why about two thirds of prisoners in the Federal system are released into a halfway house.
The practice of halfway houses, though not widely used until about 50 years ago, has grown very widely and rapidly. Inmates who have been released through a halfway house have a much lower percentage of returning to a prison then those who have been released “cold turkey”. This helps validate why inmates who have been incarcerated for over a certain amount of time should be offered a stay at a “half-way house” because it helps them regain social skills needed for functioning in society and prevents recidivism, it helps them with past addictions, and can also help them find a job.