In simple words, a halfway house is a community correctional center or a residential rehab center. It serves as a treatment and corrective program for eligible offenders. An inmate mustn’t be imprisoned for any violent behavior like murder, sexual assault, etc., to be eligible to enter the facility. Halfhouses are usually built as community centers or even neighborhoods. A typical residence provides better liberty compared to a prison. However, half-houses have strict rules and curfews. Residents of such facilities should undergo 12-step or other recovery programs, meet work or educational requirements, etc. Inmates who are at the end of their sentence and live at such facilities mainly focus on reentering society. Managers of such facilities allow them to leave their residences to find a job, visit social and recovery programs, etc. In some cases, a manager of the halfway house can decide to release the inmate, usually closer to the end of the sentence. This decision has several conditions, such as having permanent housing, a job, and most importantly, showing significant improvements when living at the halfhouse. Keep reading our article if you want to know more about halfway houses.

What is the Difference between a Halfhouse and a Prison?

Let’s see the characteristics of a prison and a halfway house to answer the question. Prison:

  • serves as a detention cell, but for long-term strict confinement;
  • operated by the federal government or state;
  • prisoners aren’t allowed to move freely within the territory of a prison;
  • prisoners are never allowed to go outside of the prison territory.

Halfway house:

  • serves as a correctional and rehabilitation center for individuals who committed a non-violent crime;
  • residents often come from another confinement institution (jail or prison);
  • managed by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that contract with local non-profit organizations to provide residential facilities;
  • provides services to individuals to help them reenter society;
  • offers greater liberty, although residents still have to follow the rules.

The main distinction is that prisons don’t provide prisoners with liberty as halfhouses do. Even though halfway houses have rules and strict curfews, they have work and rehab requirements. To meet these requirements, residents often have to leave half-houses.

Halfway Houses vs. Sober Living Facilities

Halfway house is an umbrella term that can refer to sober living facilities, correctional centers, and even transitional housing after homelessness. People often confuse these terms, so let’s figure out some differences.A sober living facility is a place where people live after a rehabilitation program. The program helps with the first step — detox. But individuals often relapse upon exiting rehab programs. That’s why sober communities have created sober living homes for people to avoid returning to harmful habits. It’s a transitional environment free of any temptations. Residents have to undergo random drug tests, recovery programs, show eagerness to improve, learn (or relearn) self-care skills, etc. It’s a voluntary program that invites people suffering from addictions.Halfway houses are carceral centers. Typically, individuals go to halfway houses due to a mandatory condition to be released from prison. They must follow strict rules curfews and often live under surveillance. In some cases, non-violent inmates can serve the entire sentence in half-houses. But they don’t have such liberties as residents of sober living facilities do. However, inmates have to go through treatment programs and learn how to reenter society as law-abiding and productive members of the community.

Functions of a Halfhouse

The most crucial function of a halfway house is behavior correction. Yes, prisoners are still prisoners in halfway houses, but they get more freedom and learn how to become healthy community members. There are other functions related to behavior correction.For example, halfhouse facilities require residents to participate in in-house duties. They have to communicate with each other without violence. These centers also provide educational functions, more on that in the following section of the article.

Halfway House Services

Most carceral community centers provide employment help and substance abuse services. These centers also provide the following:

  • educational services to learn valuable skills and find a job;
  • financial classes;
  • anger management therapy;
  • computer skills courses;
  • mentoring services;
  • self-esteem lessons.

In some cases, halfhouses offer training to get a driver’s license and grief counseling in case of losing a loved one.

Halfhouse Programs

As for the programs, the following are typically available at halfhouses:

  • individual counseling;
  • group therapy (in-house and outside as a part of 12-step program);
  • family therapy.

Usually, health insurance covers medical services. But prisoners still have to pay a fee if it doesn’t exceed 25 percent of their gross income.

How to Choose a Halfhouse?

As mentioned above, some people may use the term “halfway house” when they refer to facilities offering help when recovering from an addiction. If that’s the case, it is possible to choose a halfhouse. Sober living facilities are transitional environments between a rehabilitation program and traditional society. Instead of returning to the previous environment, a person can choose to live in a sober living facility to avoid any possible temptations.But if a halfhouse is referred to a community correction center under criminal jurisdiction, then only a Community Corrections Manager (CCM) can decide which halfway house an inmate should go to. It’s worth mentioning that CCM has to choose a halfhouse near the inmate’s home. The manager bases their decision on the central file of a prisoner. That’s why it’s critical to put the correct address in the documents. Residents of halfway houses have to stay in the center for at least three months. A prisoner’s maximum time in such a facility is 12 months.