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Federal Halfway Houses and Home Confinement

Jeremy Gordon is a federal criminal defense lawyer with a lengthy record of successful acquittals and appeals in federal cases. Get experienced legal representation for all stages of federal criminal cases. Talk with a member of the firm today.

What is Federal Halfway House and Home Confinement?

There are many types of halfway houses that a person can be placed in. The most common one is the Federal Halfway House. There are about 5,000 halfway houses in the United States. A person can get up to 12 months of halfway house. How much home confinement can a person receive? A person can get up to 6 months of home confinement if they meet all the requirements set by the sentencing judge and BOP.

There are many questions that come with seeking federal halfway house or home confinement such as how many Federal Halfway Houses are there and what are the rules? This blog post will answer some of those questions and provide you with resources on Federal Halfway House and Federal Home Confinement.

Please Note: The terms halfway house and residential reentry centers will be used interchangeably.

What You Need to Know About Halfway Houses

What Is the Second Chance Act and How Does this Assist my Loved one with Halfway House?

The Federal Halfway House, also known as the Second Chance Act, was created to help those with a criminal record reintegrate into society and find gainful employment. The act provides funding for halfway houses across the country, which provide transitional housing and support services for those who have been released from prison. The act also requires that employers consider applicants with a criminal record on an individual basis, rather than automatically disqualifying them from consideration. As a result, the Second Chance Act has helped countless individuals with a criminal record get their lives back on track and become productive members of society. If you have a loved one who is returning to society after serving time in prison, the Federal Halfway House can provide them with the support they need to make a successful transition.

What is a Federal Halfway House?

Federal halfway houses are an integral part of the United States federal prison system. Federal Halfway Houses are residential facilities that provide a structured and supervised environment for Federal prisoners who are nearing the end of their sentence and are preparing to re-enter society. Federal halfway houses are operated by private companies under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Residents of Federal halfway houses are typically required to participate in work, education, and treatment programs. They are also subject to random drug testing, curfew restrictions and other rules. Federal halfway houses are an important step in the process of reintegrating Federal prisoners into society. They help residents transition back into the workforce and build positive relationships with their families and communities.

What Are the Laws Around Federal Halfway Houses?

The Authority of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to grant Halfway House and Home Confinement is under 18 U.S.C. 3624(c)(1):

The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment spends a portion of the final months of that term (not to exceed 12 months), under conditions that will afford that prisoner a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for the reentry of that prisoner into the community. Such conditions may include a community correctional facility.

18 U.S.C. 3624(c)(1)

Further, the Bureau of Prisons has the Authority to place an incarcerated person in any place that meets their standards under statutory authority:

The Bureau of Prisons shall designate the place of the prisoner’s imprisonment. The Bureau may designate any available penal or correctional facility that meets minimum standards of health and habitability established by the Bureau, whether maintained by the Federal Government or otherwise and whether within or without the judicial district in which the person was convicted, that the Bureau determines to be appropriate and suitable.

18 U.S.C. 3621(b)

How Long can an Inmate Spend in Residential Reentry Centers?

There is a widespread misconception that federal halfway house placements are limited to a year. The BOP has the power to designate a federal halfway house as a prisoner's place of confinement for the rest of their sentence in the same way that the BOP can designate an inmate to serve their time in a Federal Correctional Institution or other BOP institution. This is because both courts and the Bureau of Prisons have determined that a "penal or correctional facility" can be any place that meets BOP's minimum standards for health and habitability, not just a building owned or operated by BOP. Generally speaking, however, the most that we have seen is around 12 months in a residential entry center. This is consistent with the guidelines from the United States Courts Website.

The amount time that an inmate actually spends in a halfway house in practice may also depend on the Attorney General and United States President at the time of the inmate's likely halfway house or home confinement placement. For instance, as a general trend, we saw the federal bureau of prisons place prisoners on greater terms of halfway house and home confinement under the Obama Administration than we did under the Trump Administration. There are always exceptions to this. We are hoping that amounts of halfway house time are significantly increased for many inmates.

What is a Residential Reentry Management Facility and How it Impacts Halfway House Placement? 

Often times we hear loved ones of an inmate indicate that while their incarcerated person has been granted a favorable term of halfway house time there is a Residential Reentry Management Facility, or RRM for short, that is further blocking the inmate's halfway house placement for things such as a lack of resources or too many other inmates residing at a halfway house.

The easiest way to understand RRM's is as a liaison and a manager of the BOP's resources for the halfway houses that the Federal BOP works with. The BOP's list of federal community correctional facilities does not indicate that the federal government owns any halfway houses directly. Rather, the Bureau of Prisons contracts with halfway houses around the country in order to get eligible inmates to the right places. Residential Reentry Management Offices manage contracts for community-based programs and act as the local point of contact with the federal courts, US Marshals Service, state and local corrections, and a range of community organizations within their jurisdiction.

The Residential Reentry Centers are also responsible for delivering federal offenders with community-based services to help them rejoin society.

How many halfway houses are there in the United States?

The number of federal halfway houses in the United States is fluid and depends on several factors. The BOP has a listing of Residential Reentry Centers that would be a good place to start when trying to find a halfway house near you.

What is a Residential Reentry Management Facility and How does it Impact the Likelihood of Halfway House Placement?

Often times we hear loved ones of an inmate indicate that while their incarcerated person has been granted a favorable term of halfway house time there is a Residential Reentry Management Facility, or RRM for short, that is further blocking the inmate's halfway house placement for things such as a lack of resources or too many other inmates residing at a halfway house.

The easiest way to understand RRM's is as a liaison and a manager of the BOP's resources for the halfway houses that the Federal BOP works with. The BOP's list of federal community correctional facilities does not indicate that the federal government owns any halfway houses directly. Rather, the Bureau of Prisons contracts with halfway houses around the country in order to get eligible inmates to the right places. Residential Reentry Management Offices manage contracts for community-based programs and act as the local point of contact with the federal courts, US Marshals Service, state and local corrections, and a range of community organizations within their jurisdiction.

The Residential Reentry Centers are also responsible for delivering federal offenders with community-based services to help them rejoin society.

Can a Residential Reentry Center be used as an Alternative to Prison Time?

Yes. In addition to what has been stated above, certain inmates can be sentenced to a residential reentry center. Individuals sentenced in Zones A and B of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines may be placed under residential re-entry confinement, also known as community confinement within a RRC, as an alternative penalty. When the applicable guideline range is in Zone A of the Sentencing Table, a condition requiring a period of community imprisonment is permitted but not required. For a person sentenced to probation in Zone B and assigned a sentence of imprisonment, the court must impose a condition requiring a period of community confinement, home detention, or intermittent confinement that will fulfill the minimum term of imprisonment specified in the guideline range. U.S.S.G.  §5B1.1, §5C1.1. This will apply to a very small amount of accused persons so please talk to your attorney for more information.

How does the Bureau of Prisons Indicate How Much Halfway house an inmate should receive?

The Bureau of Prisons Website indicates the following method:

Approximately 17-19 months prior to an inmate's release, an RRC referral recommendation is made by the unit team (which, at a minimum, consists of the inmate's unit manager, case manager, and counselor) at a scheduled program review meeting. In making the determination on suitability and length of placement (which could be up to 12 months), each inmate is considered using the five factor criteria from 18 U.S.C. 3621(b):

  • the resources of the facility being contemplated
  • the nature and circumstances of the offense(s)
  • the history and characteristics of the offender
  • any statement by the court that imposed the sentence concerning the purposes for which the sentence to imprisonment was determined to be warranted or recommending any type of penal or correctional facility as appropriate
  • any pertinent policy statement issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission

If the Warden approves the unit team's recommendation, a referral packet is forwarded to an RRM Office - ordinarily this is the nearest office to where the inmate will be releasing. Once the RRM receives the packet, it is reviewed and forwarded to the appropriate RRC contractor. The RRC contractor assesses the inmate's needs and makes the decision to accept or deny the inmate for placement. Upon acceptance of placement, the RRM works with the RRC contractor to approve and/or modify the unit team's proposed placement date. The inmate is then informed of the final decision by the unit team.

Other Factors that we have found to be pertinent are focused around the need to reacclimatize back into society. Here, factors such as the length of sentence and access to money and other resources from loved ones and friends are considered.

If I am in a Halfway House, Can I get a Home Pass if I do well?

The US Courts Website for the Northern District of Texas lists a progression for inmates in a Halfway House:

The Levels of progression are as follows:

Level 1: Full restriction, usually used for sanctions of noncompliant behavior.
Level 2: The inmate is limited to access to the community for work and treatment only.
Level 3: Identical to level 2 with the exception of a 4-hour recreation pass on the weekend.
Level 4: A 48 residence pass is permitted provided the inmate has an approved release plan by the U.S. Probation office and the VOA.
Level 5: Rarely used, usually reserved for electronic monitoring cases.
Level 6: Home confinement, which allows the inmate to spend an extended period of time at his/her residence if he/she has an approved release plan from the U.S. Probation office and VOA.

Source: Residential Reentry Centers | Northern District of Texas.

What You Need to Know About Home Confinement

What is Federal Home Confinement?

Federal home confinement is a type of incarceration that allows a prisoner to serve their sentence in their home rather than in a prison. Home confinement can be used as a form of pretrial release, as well as for prisoners who are nearing the end of their sentence. There are a number of benefits to home confinement, including the fact that it is less expensive than incarceration, and it allows prisoners to maintain their job and family ties. In order to be eligible for home confinement, prisoners must meet certain criteria, such as having a low risk of flight and being within six months of their release date. The length of time that a prisoner can spend in home confinement varies depending on the jurisdiction, but is no more than 6 months or 10% of the incarceral sentence. See 18 USC 3624(c): (c) Pre-release custody.--The Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, assure that a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment spends a reasonable part, not to exceed six months, of the last 10 per centum of the term to be served under conditions that will afford the prisoner a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for his re- entry into the community. The authority provided by this subsection may be used to place a prisoner on home confinement. The United States Probation System shall, to the extent practicable, offer assistance to a prisoner during such pre-release custody.

Further Reading

July 26, 2021
In Focus: Lives that Hang in the Balance While CARES Act Marches Towards Reincarceration

Thousands of Lives Are Subject to Being Upended as the CARES Act marches towards eventual reincarceration. These are some of their stories.

Read More
January 26, 2021
Earned Time Credits with the First Step Act

BOP regulations will affect how individuals are able to earn time credits for the evidence-based recidivism reduction classes.

Read More
January 20, 2021
Promoting Successful Reentry Post Incarceration

Through most of 2020, politicians and advocates across the country pushed for more widespread releases of inmates amidst COVID-19 threats.

Read More

How can the Law office of Jeremy Gordon Seek More time in a Halfway House or Home Confinement for my loved one?

We have found that the most effective way to obtain more halfway house/home confinement for a prisoner is by motioning the client’s sentencing court for a recommendation on the matter. The motion would ask the court to recommend to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that the loved one receive 12 months of halfway house, up to six months of which could be served on home confinement.

Many judges are willing to make such recommendations to the BOP, even post-sentencing, based on an appropriate showing of rehabilitation and proper need.

If we are retained we would ask the court for the recommendation and assuming it is granted, we would then present the order to the BOP and forcefully argue that it should be followed.

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