The federal Bureau of Prisons will impose new requirements on the 200 federal halfway houses to help inmates transition back into society, the Justice Department announced yesterday. The halfway houses will provide a specialized form of treatment to prisoners, including those with mental health and substance abuse issues. For the first time, halfway houses also will be required to provide more assistance to inmates who are pursuing job opportunities, such as permitting cell phones to be used by inmates and providing funds for transportation. The new requirements also expand access to electronic monitoring equipment, such as GPS-equipped ankle bracelets, to allow more inmates to use home confinement as a reentry method.
The Justice Department contended that the new policies “have the potential to be far-reaching.” Inmate about to leave prison typically spend the last few months either in a halfway house—known as a residential reentry center—or under home confinement, or a combination of the two. Last year alone, more than 30,000 federal inmates passed through a halfway house. DOJ said that among the most significant changes Attorney General Eric Holder announced is the requirement for standardized Cognitive Behavioral Programming to be offered at all federal halfway houses. Holder said the federal prison population has declined recently by 4,000 inmates, the first major reduction in three decades.