Qualifying for Halfway Houses and Transitional Living Facilities in Texas
Halfway houses serve to create an environment where prisoners or recovering addicts can spend a period of transition between their previous place of incarceration or treatment and the outside world. The idea is to give people the opportunity to adjust to the responsibilities of life while also caring for the their safety and the security of the rest of society. But not everyone qualifies to move to a halfway house. So who is accepted for residence in a halfway home in Houston?
Most residents of halfway houses in Harris County will be former prisoners at the end of their sentences or those who have already served a sentence but qualify for residency as part of their parole. Under federal law, prisoners can be assigned to any residency that meets their basic needs concerning health and living conditions. In addition, the following points needs to be considered:
- Availability of resources and space at the halfway house
- The type of crime for which the sentence is or was served
- Personality and history of the inmate
- Opinion of the court that gave the original sentence, and
- Ongoing changes in policy.
No inmates are allowed to be shown preferential treatment, so wealth and connections should make no difference in placement. However, if an inmate has shown a lot of difficulty keeping a clean record while in prison and avoiding disciplinary citations, this could affect whether or not he or she will earn a place in a halfway home.
How Long is a Normal Stay?
The amount of time spent in a halfway house can vary, but the maximum stay is usually less than a year, and normal stays are around one to six months. In rare cases a person convicted of a crime might be able to spend their entire sentence in a halfway house and never have to enter a detention center. This only occurs in very special cases where the sentence is low and the prisoner needs rehabilitation services not available otherwise, for example.
While in the halfway house the resident is often still considered a prisoner, so a parole violation or other infraction could result in being placed back into prison. In many cases, residency in a halfway house is seen as a privilege, and it needs to be earned and respected. This means that the resident must pay rent, follow regulations, and find or keep a job. Failing to do so could result in a loss of residency in the house and a return to regular incarceration.
Who is Banned From Halfway Houses?
Certain convicted offenders do not have the opportunity to qualify for residency. These include but are not limited to:
- Sex offenders who pose a greater risk to the community
- Inmates who need full time care for a mental or physical illness
- Inmates that do not complete drug rehabilitation programs
- Those that do not agree to pay for their stay and
- Others who are a risk to the community.
While some of these categories are well defined and will automatically keep a prisoner from being eligible for residency in a halfway home, many of the categories are subjective. This is where having a lawyer to help in the process of applying for and receiving residency in one of these housing programs is beneficial. Most decisions regarding eligibility are made a year before the prisoner’s release date at the latest, and the prison warden often has the ability to decline a recommendation.
For many prisoners, having the opportunity to spend time out in the community, gain experience and a work history, attend church and participate in many other activities would be far preferable to spending more time in prison. As with nearly every other legal process, having the right lawyer can make the difference between the decision going for the prisoner rather than against him. Making the transition from prison back to the community can be a very difficult process, and halfway housing might make all the difference in a prisoner’s rehabilitation.
For more information about community reentry programs and halfway houses, please call (713) 862-8880 to speak with experienced attorney Rand Mintzer.
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