The purpose of halfway house use in the criminal justice system is a reasonable one; to provide a half in/half out status to prisoners during a pre-release period to better facilitate the transition from prison to freedom, rather than the abrupt release from prison to the streets.
Traditionally, halfway houses have certain programs in effect which help with the transition: counseling, job interview help, educational/vocational counseling, housing help, etc.; but lately most of their work has been simply brief housing, though they are still expected to help in the reduction of recidivism.
In Pennsylvania, that help has failed so badly that being sent to a halfway house has shown to actually increase the odds of recidivating over simple prison to street release, as the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports; with the result being that those facilities who do better will get paid more, a long overdue strategy.
The study results have been added to our rehabilitation evaluation page , #12 on our website.
An excerpt from the Wall Street Journal article.
Six out of 10 inmates paroled from Pennsylvania prisons were arrested again within three years, a recent state study found. And parolees who were released to the streets were re-incarcerated less frequently than those who first spent time in halfway houses—institutions whose goal is preventing such recidivism.
Those findings prompted Pennsylvania officials to demand better results from halfway houses and other facilities for ex-inmates by linking outcomes to payments.