Federal Halfway House Closings: UPDATE

I previously wrote about the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) decision to close several halfway houses. Since that article in October 2017, I have obtained a couple of new BOP memorandums that shed additional light about the federal halfway house closings.

I. October 10, 2017 - Memo About Federal Halfway House Closings

On October 10, 2017, Hugh Hurwitz, Acting Assistant Director - Reentry Services Division, issued a memorandum entitled "Residential Reentry Center Operations." The memorandum states that BOP discontinued "sixteen RRC contracts that were underutilized. These cancellations affect 145 beds or about 1% of the total bed space." This explanation, however, contradicts other reasons BOP has provided for the federal halfway house closings. For instance, BOP told media in New York that that closure of a federal halfway house in Buffalo, NY was because the halfway house was not in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The Hurwitz memorandum also sheds light on how BOP intends to curtail halfway house placements for the foreseeable future.

According to Hurwitz, BOP intends to bring "all RRC contracts into compliance with their contracted operating capacity." Hurwitz states that "[m]any RRCs are operating above the population limits specified in their contracts." As a result, BOP is "delaying some new placements or adjusting placements until populations in those facilities decrease to within contract limits."

Finally, Hurwitz explains that "the average length of stay for BOP inmates in RRCs has increased in recent years to approximately 145 days. Due to fiscal restraints, and the contract actions described above, the average length of stay is likely to decline to about 120-125 days."

You can access a copy of the Hurwitz memorandum here:

October 10, 2017 - BOP Halfway House Memorandum

II. October 27, 2017 - Memo About Federal Halfway House Closings

The second memorandum was issued locally by the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida. The memo corroborates much of what the Hurwitz memorandum states about the BOP's recent federal halfway house closings.

Specifically, the memo explains:

Beginning approximately two weeks ago, Residential Reentry Placements have been reduced, removed, and/or temporarily suspended for some Inmates with previously established placement dates. Unless your unit team provides you with a specific reason as to why this actions was taken, for example negative institutional conduct, release planning issues, etc., these decisions are being made by the Residential Reentry Management offices providing oversight to the halfway houses.

The Residential Reentry Management Branch (RRMB) has stated the reason for the above changes in placement dates is due to fiscal constraints and overcrowding at the contracted halfway houses. Due to these above issues, inmates should expect to see average length of placements to fall within 120-125 days. The RRMB continues to carefully examine all cases to ensure compliance with the Second Chance Act and to ensure that inmates who are participating in the Residential Drug Abuse Program receive the required amount of community based treatment to remain eligible for any early release benefit granted under 18 USC 3621(e).

A copy of this memorandum can be accessed here:

FCC Coleman October 27, 2017 - Federal Halfway House Memo

III. Congress Looking Into Federal Halfway House Closings

On December 13, 2017, at 10 AM the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing addressing the BOP's federal halfway house closings. The hearing has been nominally entitled  "Oversight of the Bureau of Prisons and Inmate Reentry."

About Brandon Sample

Brandon Sample is an attorney, author, and criminal justice reform activist. Brandon’s law practice is focused on federal criminal defense, federal appeals, federal post-conviction relief, federal civil rights litigation, federal administrative law, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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