The Trump administration has been cutting support for halfway houses for federal prisoners, severing contracts with as many as 16 facilities in recent months, Reuters reports. The cuts are prompting concern that some inmates are being forced to stay behind bars longer than necessary. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long said the reductions affect only areas with small populations or underutilized centers. “The Bureau remains firmly committed to these practices, but has had to make some modifications to our programs due to our fiscal environment,” he said. Halfway houses have been a part of the justice system since the 1960s, with thousands of people moving through them each year. For-profit prison companies such as GEO Group Inc have moved into the halfway house market, though many houses are run directly by government agencies or non-profit organizations.
The prison bureau last year had about 180 competitive contracts with “residential reentry centers” run by non-profit and for-profit companies. The International Community Corrections Association says there were about 249 separate halfway houses in communities nationwide that are covered by the 180 contracts. Federal judges said the cuts are having an impact in their districts, particularly in states with fewer facilities or larger geographic areas where the nearest center might be several hundred miles away. Judge Edmund Sargus in Ohio said it was a real “stumper” when in July the government ended its contract with the Alvis facility serving the Dayton area.