Practice Profile: Halfway Houses CrimeSolutions, National Institute of Justice

Sober houses, on the other hand, are not as restrictive about who can reside on their properties. They tend to be structured more like private residences and can sometimes serve as long-term housing options. Residents have fewer rules than that of a halfway house but still may have to agree to abstinence, attend 12 step meetings or curfews. These media reports are too often the only way we are able to retrieve public information about the internal conditions of halfway houses.

definition of halfway house

At first glance, a halfway house and sober house might appear to be the same thing. Both offer a supportive environment specifically for individuals involved in a drug addiction treatment program. The primary difference between the two is that a halfway house typically requires you are currently enrolled in an addiction treatment program or have been recently.

What is the purpose of a halfway house?

Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word halfway house. There was a hope that the inmates in the program would be less likely to re-enter the prison system. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘halfway house.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors.

Not only are residents’ schedules surveilled, their travel routes are subject to review as well. Contrary to the belief that halfway houses are supportive service providers, the majority of halfway houses are an extension of the carceral experience, complete with surveillance, onerous restrictions, and intense scrutiny. A halfway house is an institute for people with criminal backgrounds or substance use disorder problems to learn (or relearn) the necessary skills to re-integrate into society and better support and care for themselves. An inmate’s unit manager, case manager, and counselor must make a referral to place the inmate in a halfway house months prior to an inmate’s release. The team then decides which halfway house will best suit the inmate, and they determine how long the inmate will stay at the halfway house. Halfway houses that are funded by state governments and those that are nonprofit organizations do not make money.

Programming integrity

In a halfway house, residents may also receive support from staff members who are trained in addiction and mental health treatment. Staff members may offer counseling, therapy, and other services to help residents address the underlying issues that led to their addiction or mental health issues. Additionally, halfway houses often offer job training and employment assistance, as well as education and life skills training. Unfortunately, much less information exists about how many state-run or state-contracted halfway houses and halfway house residents there are. However, as we will discuss later, these numbers include facilities that serve primarily or entirely as residential correctional facilities (where people serve their entire sentences). This ambiguity means that pinning down how many people are in halfway houses each day – and how many specifically state-funded halfway houses there are – is nearly impossible.

definition of halfway house

Substance abuse programs may be offered within these facilities, but it is not their primary focus and does not provide detox or withdrawal-related medication. Additionally, these facilities are a short-term solution whose max length of stay is usually between 3 or twelve months. “Halfway house” can refer to different types of facilities that share some similarities.

What you should know about halfway houses

New patients are admitted in individual rooms providing one-to-one services and programming. As they become more independent, the dorms become bigger so that by the time the patient leaves, they are living in the 50–100-person dorm described above. The name given to a house for people moving back in to society from a jail or other institution. sober house All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional.

  • A halfway house is a type of temporary residence with a controlled environment that allows individuals to gain (or regain) the necessary skills to reintegrate into society.
  • This pattern of inadequate staffing extends to CEC halfway houses in California, where a former facility director cited inadequate training and earnings barely above minimum wage.
  • While a halfway house may function somewhat like a rehab facility with its controlled settings, curfews, and medical access, it is not meant to be an extension of inpatient treatment nor a substitute for drug addiction treatment.
  • The voices of those who have spent time in halfway houses, and those who have worked in them, are key to understanding the reality of these facilities and the rampant problems that plague them.
  • These rules provide a valuable structure that reduces exposure to environmental and emotional triggers that could tempt someone to relapse.

In federal RRCs, staff are expected to supervise and monitor individuals in their facilities, maintaining close data-sharing relationships with law enforcement. Disciplinary procedure for violating rules can result in the loss of good conduct time credits, or being sent back to prison or jail, sometimes without a hearing. Reports from 2013 show that inmates in halfway houses fell by 9,300 inmates with a total of approximately 41,000 inmates entering halfway houses in 2013.


As of August 18, federal Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs) had 122 active cases, and 9 deaths, of coronavirus among halfway house residents nationwide. However, recent investigative reports suggest that the real numbers are even higher, as the BOP continues to underreport cases in RRCs and state-level data is nearly non-existent. Halfway houses are residential treatment facilities designed to provide a transitional path for people between prison, addiction, or domestic abuse and their reentry into society as healing, reforming, productive citizens. Beginning with houses to help poor and homeless people in the early 19th century, halfway houses have evolved into safe havens for people to learn basic life skills and personal responsibility.

What is the meaning of halfway house in England?

British Dictionary definitions for halfway house

halfway house. noun. a place to rest midway on a journey.

Privately owned, for-profit halfway houses do make a profit through patient payments or insurance coverage. In one model, upon admission, a patient is classified as to the type of disability, ability to reintegrate into society, and expected time frame for doing so. Although these regulations differ, they usually do not allow alcohol or drug use, violence, or theft.

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They are defined as safe, supervised, and structured environments that provide assistance to inmates who will be released from incarceration soon. Three-quarter houses can be an excellent option for individuals who have completed a rehabilitation program and are looking for a safe and supportive environment to continue their recovery. They offer a level of autonomy that can be beneficial for individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to their sobriety and are ready for more independence. One reason that we know more about federal than state-level halfway houses has to do with the contracting process.

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