01. Halfway House
"The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
- Maya Angelou, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
In prison, the old adage for the final countdown to release from prison is “99 Days and a wake-up.” This means the inmate has 99 days to go and then will be released early the following morning to travel, usually, to a halfway house. There is no better feeling than hearing your name called to “R&D” (Receiving and Discharge) over the prison compound speakers, which will mean you will be leaving prison.
The BOP utilizes Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs), also known as halfway house, to place inmates in the community prior to their release from custody in order to help them adjust to life in the community and find suitable employment. These centers provide a structured, supervised environment and support in job placement, counseling, and other services. As part of this community-based programming, some inmates are also placed on home confinement (statutorily limited to the last 10 percent of an inmate's total sentence).
The former inmates that are at the halfway house are coming from all security levels found within the BOP (Camps, Lows, Mediums and Penitentiaries). Some people you will see at the halfway house may have been in prison for over 20 years and others for less than a year. However, everyone who is there has had to earn the right to be there so security should not be a concern. As a general rule, you want to limit the time that you spend there.
Prior to release, inmates really start to prepare for life after prison. Contact with friends and family should be more focused on getting a new job or other arrangements once home. Your preparation for leaving prison should be as focused as it was in preparing to enter it. While sources on the BOP website will tell you that halfway house assist with employment, housing and healthcare, you will find that most have limited resources to effectively help you in any of these areas. You cannot depend on the halfway house to do much for you other than monitor you.
During the course of your prison stay, you will have accumulated a number of items that you can take, or leave behind. For most of your items, you need to leave them behind. A Walkman radio that you have used to listen to television is not going to do you much good in the real world. The same goes for sneakers, socks, t-shirts and other clothing that you may have at home. Your best option to give these things away to other inmates who have limited funds or who are new arrivals to the prison system.
You will need to arrange a ride or the BOP will provide a bus or rail ticket for you to get to your final destination. Most people leaving prison have a family member or friend pick them up, so arrange your ride.