Halfway Houses Don’t Reduce Criminal Recidivism, Study Reports

halfway housing versus prisons

Nationally billions are spent annually to provide halfway-housing in a means of rehabilitating inmates. In the state of Pennsylvania alone it can cost upwards of $110 million.

Ideally, halfway-housing is supposed to be a less expensive, more effective way of curbing criminal recidivism in lieu of leaving criminals in jail. However, according to a Pennsylvania study, criminals are still inclined to commit crimes while living in governmentally funded housing outside of prison walls.

The term “halfway house” refers to transitional living where an individual is not fully incarcerated and at the same time not fully at liberty to move freely within the community, as there are curfews and other measures in place intended to keep track of the occupants.

Non-violent crime inmates near the end of their sentences and recent parolees are housed in these facilities. Typically the costs are two-thirds in comparison to prisons.

The housing companies provide the residents therapy, drug treatment, job training and other services to help ease their transition back to society.

Halfway houses can be defined as places where offenders work and pay rent while undergoing counseling and job training. Halfway houses are usually operated by nonprofit or faith-based organizations, but may also be funded by local or state agencies.

Whether private or public, halfway houses are employed by courts, corrections, probation, parole and pretrial programs to develop and implement strategies to address ways to hold offenders accountable for their crime as well as prevent future crimes in lieu of prolonged imprisonment.

According to the study inmates who spent time in these facilities were more likely to return to crime than inmates who were released directly onto the street from prison.

The study by the Pennsylvania Corrections Department, which examined 38 privately run and 14 state-run halfway houses, found 67 percent of inmates sent to halfway houses were rearrested or sent back to prison within three years, compared to 60 percent of inmates who were released directly to the streets once their prison terms were up. It was assessed the housing facilities were not providing adequate services, though overall both results were disappointing.

As a result officials are considering overhauling state contracts with companies that run private housing. They are considering directly linking funding to the companies to the success of rehabilitation.

In the state of Pennsylvania thousands of former inmates circulate within the halfway-housing system. But officials feel it necessary to establish new correctional strategies as prisons are becoming overpopulated and governmental funding is inadequate to accommodate it.

How do we deal with the overpopulated prison problem? Should we abandon the halfway-housing model entirely?

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