As the very name implies, halfway houses play an essential role in bridging a recovering addict's or an ex-offender's return to society. Although less intense than a prison environment, halfway houses impose a variety of employment and reporting expectations on residents to ensure that their transition proves to be a successful one. By meeting these requirements, residents learn job and social skills to help them cope with their new responsibilities.
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Origins And Purpose
First coined during the 1800s, the term "halfway house" described a strategic resting area between two points for weary travellers, according to the Integrity Way website. As "motel" or "motor inn" became the description for such establishments, "halfway house" came to describe an environment intended to ease the transition into society. Counselling and therapy are key elements of that experience, along with job training and social skills classes. With residency at a halfway house comes a set of rules and expectations to follow.
Halfway houses vary by clientele, funding and purpose, yet they share many common elements designed to regulate behaviour. Prohibition of substances is a given, with some halfway houses even banning the use of methadone or suboxone, according to halfwayhouses.com. Less stringent rules for tobacco use may apply, but smoking indoors is generally discouraged. Gambling is also not allowed. Specific curfews and bedtime hours are also part of the experience, to ensure a consistent recovery environment.
Expectations for Residents
Whether full- or part-time, getting some type of employment is a common expectation for residents, according to halfwayhouses.com. This requirement may also include an educational component. Weekly or nightly meetings---including group therapy and counselling sessions---are a standard in most programs, to keep the enrollee on track toward the recovery plan, as outlined by his therapist. Failing to follow the plan may be grounds for terminating the resident's lease.
The process of re-entering society becomes more complex for federal inmates, who must follow conditions spelt out by the U.S Bureau of Prisons, says the Federal Criminal Defense Consulting website. Those strictures include working at least 40 hours per week. Ex-offenders' movements may also be restricted to work, religious or recreation purposes for a few days, up to two weeks. Once this hurdle clears, former inmates may earn day, night or weekend passes to widen their movements.
Return to Society
Three to six months is the average halfway house stay, depending on how the inmate progresses, says the recoveryconnection.org website. This experience differs from a residential treatment facility, which aims to help residents become sober. A halfway house simply creates the environment to continue that effort. Inmates with six or less months' halfway house time may transition straight to home confinement, which allows them to finish out their sentence in their home community.
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