There’s no question that living within the criminal justice system is different than living within a free society. The number of choices is reduced in prison, and it might even be accurate to suggest that people in prison have little to no free will. They must do as they’re told, and they’re often rewarded for simply going along with what the authorities say they must do. People who emerge from these systems may have lost the ability to make good decisions on their own, and they may find it difficult to adjust to the pace and feel of life outside of the walls of a prison cell.
It can be particularly dangerous for people with a history of addiction, as the freedom found outside of prison could mean a relapse to poor behaviors regarding drugs and alcohol. Halfway homes are designed to help people who are once again living outside of prison. Here, they can transition from a life with no options into a life that’s full of good choices and clear thinking.
While the requirements for prisoner treatment can vary dramatically from state to state, many legislators have worked hard to ensure that prisoners have the opportunity to do more than just watch the clock when they’re convicted of a crime. As a result, it’s not uncommon for prisons to provide residents with:
People with addictions might get even more help for the problems they face. It’s help that many of them need, as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that about 75 percent of people who enter prison have some history of substance abuse or addiction. Some people are arrested for their drug use, as they’re caught either buying or selling drugs. Others are convicted of issues that have little to nothing to do with drugs, but that might have been influenced by the damage drugs can bring about. People who are convicted of violent acts, for example, may not have been arrested due to drugs, but those drugs may have made the crimes easier to commit, as some drugs can inhibit impulse control and raise feelings of anger. While people arrested for drugs may need therapy in order to avoid their arrest for drug offenses in the future, people arrested on other charges may also need help, so they won’t make the same mistakes as life goes forward.
In the past, it was somewhat common for people in prison to take and use all sorts of drugs, including tobacco products. Now, legislators have developed sophisticated systems that allow them to detect any drugs that might enter the facility, and these technologies may also allow law enforcement professionals to screen inmates for drugs, and work with them if those drugs are found. As a result of approaches like this, a study in the National Institute of Justice Journal suggests that prisons in these states are 99 percent drug free.
Even so, some people find it easier to resist an addiction while they’re in prison than they might if they were living on the outside. When they’re incarcerated, there are no drugs to purchase and no money with which to buy drugs. No one else is taking drugs, and parties in which drugs might be sold are hard to find. There just isn’t much drug use about in prison, and this might make resistance just a little easier to accomplish.
When these same people get out of prison, however, they may be tempted to return to their old neighborhoods and spend time with their old friends who took drugs. It’s just easier to use in this environment, and old habits might quickly follow.
In addition, people who emerge from prison might be faced with very real and very serious lifestyle difficulties. For example, a study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that people who leave prison tend to have low rates of employment, and they tend to get rearrested at a regular rate. The programs they went through in prison might help them to avoid some of these problems, but some might need just a little more help in order to really turn their lives around.
A halfway house is still considered part of the judicial system, meaning that people who live here still aren’t allowed to roam about freely and do as they please. In fact, it’s not uncommon for halfway houses to place very strict demands on their clients regarding:
The day might be regimented, with specific blocks of time devoted to some activities while other time periods are devoted to other tasks. This sort of rigid schedule can help people in prison learn how to constructively spend time when they’re on their own once more.
Unlike a sober living community, which might also provide strict rules for their residents, halfway homes tend to pair this strictness with therapy. Counselors might design development plans for residents, allowing them to work on the issues that stand as obstacles to their return to society, and group counseling sessions might be held in common areas regarding addiction and/or mental health.
Halfway homes might seem like excellent choices for people who are currently living within the criminal justice system, and they might feel as though the help they’d get in a program like this could really help them to turn their lives around. Before these inmates begin to petition for release, however, there are a few housekeeping rules that really should be dealt with. For example, some states restrict the use of halfway houses to certain kinds of inmates. The Northern District of Ohio, for example, restricts the use of these homes to inmates who have about six months left on their incarceration term. People who haven’t participated in treatment while in prison might not be eligible, as might people who have pending cases. Rules like this might keep people from participating in halfway homes, even if they might want to do so.
Those who do gain acceptance into a halfway home should be sure to follow the rules of the home to the letter, as breaking the rules might mean returning to prison. There’s no way to petition a change in the rules, and there’s no real way to break those rules without detection. It’s best to go along with the rules as they’re written and to look for the kernel of help in each task required. It can seem tedious, but it might be the best way to get through the process and ensure that reentry into society goes as smoothly as it should.
There’s no real need for families or inmates to seek out halfway homes and look for options that seem right to them. Most prisoners aren’t given the option to choose one facility over another, and the family isn’t expected to determine where the person should go and provide transportation to that location. Even so, learning more about how the programs work might be beneficial for families. They’ll know more about what sorts of things their loved one will be expected to do, and they’ll have a deeper understanding of the possible challenges that lie ahead. If you’d like to find out more about aftercare and the methods in which a person recovers from an addiction or an unhealthy lifestyle, please call us. We have operators standing by to take your call.