Exploring the Impact of Halfway Houses and the Use of Revocations

April 29, 2024

As part of our core mission, the Reentry Coalition of New Jersey commissions evidence-based research to explore issues that impede successful reentry into society and provide new ideas to promote public safety and reduce recidivism.

Across the state, halfway houses and residential community reintegration programs help people transition back into communities as productive citizens – with quality of programming critically important to overall effectiveness and an individual’s long-term success.

The Coalition asked the Center for Effective Public Policy (CEPP) to examine the best practices of halfway houses and residential facilities to determine what specific programming, structures and treatments reduce recidivism and help support an individual’s successful transition back into the community post incarceration. Their report also focuses on the use and consequences of revocations for noncriminal actions in these programs, highlighting several promising opportunities for the future.

Here are some key findings from their research:

1. One size programming does not fit all.

We need to develop a more individualized program for people at higher risk of returning to prison. Every person’s rehabilitation program should factor into an individual’s behavior, cognitive abilities, gender, and propensity for violence.

2. Know that some populations are disproportionally affected by non-criminal infractions.

These include Black individuals, people with a substance abuse history, or a diagnosed mental health condition (80% likely to abscond), among others. In 2021, 114,649 people were sent to prison for technical violations in community settings. Pew Charitable Trusts and other highly regarded research sources recommend policy reform for non-criminal infractions.

3.Perceive halfway house residents as stakeholders in their own success.

Be transparent, clear, and consistent about expectations, policies, sanctions, and goals, using incentives/rewards and penalties to encourage accountability.

4. Change the culture – train staff to better manage challenging situations and behaviors.

Staff need to understand the parameters of fair, swift, proportional and consistent responses, which according to evidence yield positive results. Currently, non-criminal infractions are meted out in an inconsistent manner, seeming to ‘favor’ some parolees, while ‘punishing’ others for the same behavior.

 

CLICK HERE to read the policy paper in full and learn more about impact of halfway houses and the use of revocations.

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