The term “halfway house” doesn't have just one meaning. It can reference several different types of facilities, including a structured treatment center for those transitioning into the community after completing a detox program for drug or alcohol use. However, halfway houses for ex-convicts are a different type of facility. In Illinois, they are residential facilities where people leaving prison or jail must reside before being fully released into their communities.
Halfway House for Convicts
Some halfway houses offer structured living situations for addicts who have completed detoxification programs. Although these individuals have had the strength to stop using drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to stay sober if they spend time in a structured environment where they can slowly transition back into society. These facilities are sometimes called sober living homes and, while there might be formerly incarcerated people in their programs, the facility is not limited to ex-convicts.
A halfway house for ex-convicts coming out of prison or jail is a different type of transition program than recovery homes for addiction treatment or substance abuse. The sole purpose of these facilities is to act as a transitional space between incarceration and reentry. The convicts are required to spend time in these facilities – it is not voluntary like at most drug rehabilitation facilities. In these facilities specifically for ex-convicts, individuals live in a group environment and are obliged to obey specified rules, which include attending treatment programs and classes, following curfews and maintaining employment.
State vs. Federal Halfway Houses
Prison officials do not run these facilities, nor does law enforcement. Generally, state corrections departments, parole offices and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) enter into contracts with nonprofits and private companies to manage them. The halfway houses are funded through these contracts, some on a state level, others on the federal level.
What's the difference between state and federally contracted halfway houses? First, the terminology is different. Federally funded programs are termed Residential Reentry Centers, while state-licensed halfway houses may be called Transitional Centers, Reentry Centers, or Community Recovery Centers. The federal government has some 154 Residential Reentry Centers nationwide with a capacity for almost 10,000 residents.
Information on state facilities is more difficult to come by, but regardless of where the funding comes from, these facilities work with corrections departments to provide a living situation for those individuals getting out of jails or prisons. Living in these facilities is usually a condition of parole or release.
How Residential Reentry Centers Work
While it is easy to think of halfway houses as supportive service providers, most facilities that house ex-cons are rather an extension of the person's incarceration. They impose strict and onerous rules, and have surveillance equipment to keep close tabs on the residents. They are in daily contact with law enforcement and share all data with them.
When an inmate is given the chance to go to a halfway house, they technically can say no, but they rarely do because that would mean spending additional time behind bars. If an individual violates the halfway house rules, they can be sent back to prison without a hearing.
What Is a Restitution Center?
Another type of halfway house for convicts is termed a restitution center or a community based/residential correctional facility. These are not the same as halfway houses for convicts since they act as alternatives to jail or prison, not as transitional housing or treatment facilities. Individuals are sent to these facilities to serve their entire sentences.
Most restitution centers require residents to work and apply the money they earn to court-ordered fines, restitution fees, and room and board. Community based/residential correctional facilities also require work, but these establishments function more like minimum-security prisons than reentry services. Some community-based correctional facilities have two functions: housing people who have been ordered to serve their full sentences there and also housing some ex-convicts who are moving toward release into the community.
Illinois Rehab/Transition Centers
The Illinois Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation manages 27 adult incarceration facilities. One is a closed maximum security center; the remaining centers are medium security facilities. Both types of prisons have rehabilitation programs for inmates in a bid to make their transition into the community simpler and easier once they are released. There are 19 of these facilities in the state.
Illinois also funds transition facilities. These are minimum security centers to which inmates are transferred toward the end of their sentences. These facilities are intended to introduce inmates back into the community. They allow and encourage them to get paying jobs in society while serving the last six months of their prison term in the correctional facility.
List of Illinois Transition Facilities
Illinois has too many transition facilities to provide a complete list. Since a prisoner is assigned to one of the facilities and has no say in selecting their preferred facility, it is not possible to shop around. Here are some Illinois transition facilities:
1) Peoria Adult Transition Center in Peoria, Illinois. Its mission is described as providing "supervision, sanctions, reintegration programs and service to the resident offenders." It states that it is committed to maximizing the ability of offenders to be self-sufficient law-abiding citizens when they leave. This facility, housed in one building in downtown Peoria, has 248 beds in dorm-type rooms with six to 12 residents per room. It is situated on a bus route in a neighborhood of restaurants and several hotels that employ the residents.
2) Crossroads Adult Transition Center is located in Chicago. Its mission statement is similar to that of Peoria's Transition Center. This center has a 330-bed capacity located on the West Side of Chicago. The programing is said to provide skills, education, opportunities and resources in an attempt to reduce recidivism. The facility consists of one building with four community-style living units that house 327 general population offenders.
3) Fox Valley Adult Transition Center in Aurora, Illinois, is a similar facility, but it houses only female offenders. Its capacity is 128.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.