The United States Bureau of Prisons offers community-based residential programs to help inmates transition back into society. Federal halfway houses, run by private agencies that contract their services to the government, provide 24/7 guidance to program participants. Also called Residential Reentry Centers, these facilities operate under the jurisdiction of a central office in Washington D.C. and 26 field offices in various judicial districts.
Halfway houses, also called Residential Reentry Centers (RRC) give prisoners a chance to assimilate into society by residing in a supervised group setting with other inmates nearing their release date. Outside contractors chosen by the federal government run these centers. The contractor's staff helps participants learn how to manage their finances, readjust to the work force and blend back into community. Prisoners enrolled in a residential drug abuse program while in prison are eligible for transitional drug abuse treatment (TDAT) in a halfway house.
A participant in a Residential Reentry Center (RRC) program remains in federal custody if sentenced by a United States District Court. Inmates under auspices of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) are placed in the halfway house as a part of their custody. The halfway house staff monitors inmates' behavior at all times. Staff members must approve a participant's activities in advance. Participants must submit to random alcohol and drug tests after they return to the RRC from an outside activity.
The Second Chance Act
The Second Chance Act, signed by President George W. Bush in April 2008, provides that the Bureau of Prisons guarantee an incarcerated person (if deemed appropriate by parole authorities) spend the last 12 months or less of his sentence in a community correctional facility, aka halfway house, to prepare for reentry into the community.
Under normal circumstances, a transitioning prisoner will work a 40-hour work week no later than 15 days after entering the RRC program. Halfway house staff assist the resident in preparing resumes and obtaining a job.
Cost for Program Members
Participants reimburse the RRC for housing and board by paying one-quarter of the gross income from their job back into the program. Inmates generally pay for their own medical treatment while residing in the halfway house. In emergency situations, the contractor must obtain treatment to save the inmate's life. The Bureau of Prisons supplies the participant with 30-days worth of medication upon their entry into the halfway house. In certain situations, the Bureau of Prisons provide inmates with medicine for a longer period.
An official memorandum issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in June 2010 sets forth recommendations for selecting appropriate halfway house participants. According to the memo, inmates who have previously failed a re-entry program or had recent misconduct while incarcerated make inappropriate residence for a halfway house.