What is the Purpose of a Halfway House

The effectiveness of releasing prisoners to serve the remainder of their sentence in a transitional halfway house has been questioned in recent years. Anecdotal evidence and formal studies indicate that the recidivism rate for inmates that spend time in a halfway house is the same or even higher than for inmates that serve their entire sentence in a prison facility. Speaking with an experienced Houston area criminal defense lawyer is the most effective means of unraveling the complex network of laws that govern participation in community reentry programs.

Halfway Houses

Also known as residential reentry centers or community correction centers, halfway houses were designed to help inmates and parolees enjoy a successful transition from prison to society. Although halfway house residents are still prisoners of the state, they have been afforded an opportunity to benefit from the supervision and transitional services that halfway houses provide. Some halfway houses are operated by the government, but many others are managed by private companies or nonprofit organizations.

Halfway houses are intended to provide a structured environment where inmates can return to work and develop the skills necessary to transition back into the community. The questionable record of halfway houses, including access to drugs and alcohol, has prompted federal and state officials to impose new standards and oversight for these important community programs.

When an inmate is released to a community halfway house, they must obtain permission to leave the premises. Moreover, they are subject to a curfew and may not use drugs or alcohol. Every inmate is expected to seek employment in addition to participating in a variety of transitional and educational programs. Any inmate that fails to observe the halfway house rules or participate in the required programs will be discharged and returned to jail or prison.

Halfway House Programs and Services

Nearly every community reentry center offers employment programs and substance abuse services. Many halfway houses also offer one or more of the following programs and services:

  • Educational services
  • Group therapy
  • Financial counseling
  • Life and parenting skills training
  • Anger management classes
  • Behavior medication classes
  • Spiritual programs
  • Sex offender programs
  • Domestic violence classes

Although an inmate will typically spend between one and six months, longer in some cases, as the resident of a halfway house, not every inmate is eligible for participation in a reentry program. Residents are required to pay approximately 25 percent of their income to the halfway house in addition to paying for medical care (except for drug and alcohol treatment) and health insurance coverage.

The legal requirements surrounding participation in a community reentry program can be difficult to understand. For more information about halfway houses, please call (713) 868-6100 to speak with The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp criminal defense attorneys.