Halfway houses are community-based correctional programs that use community supervision and intermediate sanctions. While there is no singular definition of a halfway house, it usually refers to temporary housing, provided in a community-based residential facility, which uses around-the-clock supervision and offers services to assist with the transition from incarceration to the community (Wong et al. 2018). The goal of halfway houses is to provide services and basic necessities to former offenders returning from incarceration, to improve the likelihood of their successful reintegration and promote community safety.
A number of characteristics are common to most halfway houses, including 1) constant supervision and daily contact between staff and returning offenders; 2) a requirement for participants to abide by rules (such as curfews and drug testing); and 3) access to employment, education, life skills training, and additional services as needed (such as substance use treatment and counseling). However, the degree to which these services are provided (i.e., frequency, duration, and intensity) vary substantially among halfway house programs.
Halfway houses also differ based on the timepoint in the criminal justice system process. A halfway house can be characterized as “halfway in” or “front end” when it is used as an alternative to incarceration, to divert offenders from jail or prison. Alternatively, a halfway house can be characterized as “halfway out” or “back end” when it is used to aid in the process of offender reintegration from incarceration into the community (Caputo 2004).
Halfway houses seek to offset criminogenic risk factors for recidivism, including unemployment, homelessness, and substance and illicit drug use, by facilitating exposure to protective factors such as networks of social support, education, employment, stable housing, and involvement in self-improvement programs (Latessa 1991). Such programs are intended to assist with successful transition back into the community and also create the potential for lasting social bonds.
Doing What Works
Please click on the International Community Corrections Association link or information on “Doing What Works”