Understanding Halfway Homes

Do you ever wonder what truly drives a person toward making mistakes that may impact the rest of their lives? It must take a certain mentality to push a person to get addicted to something or take an action that is disastrous enough to nearly destroy their life. Taking such decisions is obviously the wrong thing to do. Some people may have reasons behind their actions, however, they don’t justify the actions themselves. It gets especially interesting when you start to read opinions on whether ex-addicts or ex-convicts deserve a second chance. What you don’t really hear much about is how having a low income can lead to addiction. You don’t hear much about how having a low income is common among those who choose to commit crimes.

Regardless of your stance on whether these people deserve second chances, there are ways they can get themselves second chances at somewhat normal lives. Among those second chances are facilities known as Halfway Houses. The idea behind these facilities is to provide a transitional place where ex-convicts and ex-addicts can work on being reintroduced to society. But, halfway houses aren’t exactly funhouses. Known now as “community correctional centers” or “residential rehabilitation centers”, these places serve as forms of fulfilling alternative incarceration sentences. They also take in addicts of all kinds, whether related to alcohol or other drugs.

Understanding Halfway Houses

To understand the purpose of halfway houses, you need to understand what kind of residents they take in. Typically, halfway house residents will fall into 3 categories. Starting off with ex-convicts. Halfway houses serve as a place to help previously incarcerated people get re-introduced to society. Halfway houses achieve that through many different, mostly strict means. Other residents also include addicts. Those addicts may be struggling with addictions to alcohol or other drugs. Finally, halfway houses may also take in people struggling with mental illnesses.

The idea of halfway houses is not exactly new. Halfway houses went back into development in 1961, by then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy. That guy saw “pre-release guidance centers” as practical ways to make honest people out of ex-convicts. Eventually, the program now helps solve overcrowding in jails, while providing support to those facilities. In halfway houses, residents get rewards for good behavior, pushing them to be better versions of themselves.

Although support decreased over time for halfway houses, especially after the ‘war on drugs’ in the 70s and 80s, the number of people going through halfway houses has been increasing over time. Ever since the Federal Prisoner Rehabilitation Act in 1964, halfway houses opened their doors to adult and juvenile residents.

How These Halfway Houses Actually Work

As you’d probably imagine, life in halfway houses is not exactly all fun and games. People who go to halfway houses are there to treat serious problems. These problems include crime-related, addiction-related, or mental-health-related. That’s why these halfway houses have pretty strict rules. While staying in halfways houses, residents should abide by curfews. They may also have work requirements. On top of that, residents have to go through treatment programs.

It comes as a surprise to absolutely no one that halfway house residents may not consume any alcohol or drugs during their stay. That obviously aligns with the nature of business of these halfway houses. So, what happens if a halfway resident fails to abide by these rules?

If someone is staying in a halfway house and they break the rules (breaking curfews, refusing to work, or refusing to participate in treatment programs) they may find themselves kicked out of the halfway house. In the case of convicts, that can mean serious consequences. Convicts that get themselves expelled out of halfway homes may find themselves heading back to prison to carry on the rest of their sentences. Whether the time they spend in halfway houses counts towards the time of their sentences or not is completely up to the laws within their states.

The Kinds Of Treatment Programs That Go On In Halfway Houses

We’ve already made it clear the kind and variation of residents halfway houses take in. With that interesting list of problems halfway houses aim to tackle, you can expect a wide variety of treatment programs to go on inside.

When it comes to helping addicts, halfway houses may offer substance abuse programming and employment services. As you’d probably imagine, it’s not easy for an addict to maintain a stable career. But, the list of programs offered in halfway houses can actually help the wide spectrum of visitors they get. Halfway houses offer educational programs. Those may serve as effective ways to rehabilitate anyone trying to develop their lives in positive ways. You may also find cognitive therapy groups, financial counseling, life and parenting skills classes, and anger management classes offered in halfway houses. On top of that, there are programs that tackle specific issues directly, such as behavior medication programs, spiritual programs, domestic violence counseling, and programs for sex offenders.

Who Gets To Go To Halfway Houses

You can easily guess that halfway houses in America have their hands full with people to treat. Due to a lack of space, funding, and other resources, halfway houses can’t just take in anyone. The resources within the state, residents’ prison records, and the kind of crime they committed may end up deciding if a convict can make it to a halfway house. State laws also play a big role in deciding if someone would make it into a halfway house. Let’s break down the factors that may affect a convict’s chances of moving to a halfway house:

  • Space availability in a halfway house: This is a no-brainer. If halfway houses in the local state are completely full, they couldn’t logically take any more residents. Even if these convicts, addicts, or mentally-ill people qualify for halfway houses.
  • A criminal’s records: This one obviously focuses on convicts. If someone has gone through a halfway house before and got expelled, chances are they won’t make it into another one. Also, if a convict has a proven record of violence, it only makes sense that a halfway house would turn them away.
  • The kind of crime they committed: Convicts who have committed violent crimes (such as murder, or rape) would pose a threat to everyone else in a halfway house. That’s why they have low chances of transferring into one. However, convicts who committed petty crimes (such as white-collar crimes)
  • How full or empty local prisons are: As we’ve mentioned before, halfway houses provide relief to local prisons. After all, the US has the highest number of prisoners among all countries in the world. So, it’s no surprise that prisons may get overcrowded. These prisons might need help from halfway houses to ease that overcrowding.