A halfway house or a halfhouse is a transitional residence for individuals with criminal backgrounds attempting to reintegrate into society. Such a facility aims to help these individuals become law-abiding and productive members of society after committing a crime.
In some cases, residents stay at such facilities voluntarily. But usually, living in halfway houses is a requirement to be released from prison. Residents must follow strict rules and show a willingness to get back to healthy societal behavior. Read further to learn more about halfhouses, rules at such facilities, and benefits for people with criminal backgrounds.
The Difference Between a Halfway and Sober House
It’s important to understand the differences between halfway and sober living houses. Even though a halfway house does require residents to stay sober and avoid using drugs, it’s not a sober living house.
A halfhouse is a facility that provides housing for people formerly released from jail. Living in such facilities is often a release requirement and not a voluntary option. Sober living houses are meant for people who want to live in transitional environments to increase the chances of staying sober.
A halfway house is not a prison, even though it has some restrictions like curfews and limited visits of other people. A typical halfway house is located in a community and provides more liberty. Each facility takes care of residents’ basic, medical, educational, societal, and other needs.
Halfhouses have rules and restrictions, as well as offer health treatment and social related programs and even work requirements. Prisoners who were sent to such facilities as part of or at the end of their sentence have to learn how to reintegrate into society.
This means that it is allowed to leave a halfway house to find a job, to work, and to visit recovery programs. But they must return by curfew and often have to go through random drug tests. Compared to sober living houses, halfway houses have more restrictions and stricter rules.
What are Typical Rules in a Halfway House?
As mentioned, following a strict set of rules is a must for residents of halfway house facilities. The set includes:
- No violence.
- Following a strict curfew.
- Participate in in-house activities.
- No alcohol or substance abuse.
- Participating in recovery programs.
- Trying to find a job.
- Not leaving the facility without the manager’s permission.
Rules differ depending on the facility. For example, it is allowed to use phones in some facilities, but some residences restrict or ban using phones. In some cases, it is allowed to leave a house but to come back by curfew. In other cases, halfway houses allow leaving the residence only by obtaining the manager’s permission.
Advantages of Halfway Houses
The main idea of a halfway house is not just to restrict residents from the rest of society. That’s the task of a prison. The goal is to help parolees learn how to integrate into traditional society. Here are some of the benefits of staying at such facilities:
- Getting support and guidance.
- Learning how to build meaningful relationships.
- Getting help in finding a job or getting an education to pursue a certain career.
- Full focus on gaining skills needed to integrate into society.
- Learning how to deal with stress to avoid falling back to former behavioral patterns.
Overall, the idea of a halfway house is not to punish someone but to guide and help. That’s why staying at such facilities shows great results. Around 60% of former residents manage to improve their lifestyles. They never return to criminal behavior.
The statistics show that inmates who stay at transitional facilities have a much higher chance of returning to healthy societal behavior. Staying in restricted environments (but less strict than prison) positively affects graduates’ future. They learn how to take care of their needs, build meaningful relationships, etc.
The main goal of a halfway house is to guide former prisoners, so they become law-abiding citizens. Upon leaving such a facility, it’s more likely that a former resident finds a permanent job and residence. In some cases, the legislation allows non-violent convicts to serve a full sentence at such facilities.
What happens if a resident leaves a state halfway house?
If living in a halfway house is a federal requirement and is considered as a part of the sentence, leaving the house could lead to big problems. The law sees this act as an escape from prison, and it may lead to pressing charges against the inmate. In some cases, an “escapee” may get from 2 to 5 years of imprisonment. The only exception is if the resident has to find a job.
Are phones allowed in a halfway house?
It depends on separate halfway houses. Usually, the goal of a half-house is to help residents to re-learn basic skills to reintegrate the society and find a job, so phones are allowed. Some facilities allow residents to use the phone at all times. In other cases, the usage of phones is restricted to curfews or not allowed at all.
Who can live in a halfway house?
Usually, halfway houses accommodate inmates whose release from prison requires living in such facilities. But in some cases, halfway houses accommodate people recently released from prison. Such individuals choose to return to normal life or go through a halfway house program to have better chances to return to society.
Is it possible to serve a full sentence in a halfway house facility?
Yes, it’s possible, but only for non-violent offenders serving very short sentences. For example, someone convicted of theft can serve a full sentence at such a facility, but sex offenders don’t get such an opportunity.
What is the minimum amount of time to stay at a halfway house?
In the US, a minimum amount of time to stay at a half-house facility is three months, but there are exceptions. For example, if a resident is a non-violent offender and has an approved residence to live in, they can be released early.