Federal Post-Incarceration Transition

 Halfway House, Home Confinement and Supervised Release

Overview

When I use the term Post-Incarceration, I am referring to the period of time after an inmate is released from Prison and extending through Supervised Release.  Inmates serve the remainder of their time in a Halfway House and transition to Home Confinement, which is typically followed by Supervised Release.  Halfway House and Home Confinement are still technically considered incarceration (or confinement), but they provide more liberties, with the goal to transition an inmate back into the Community.

Note:  In the Sentencing Section, I discuss how an Alternative Sentencing Strategy can use Halfway House and Home Confinement, along with Community Service, as a Probationary or split Sentence, minimizing the amount of time in a Prison.  In this article, I am referring to the traditional function of Halfway House and Home Confinement on the back end of a Sentence, which has the main purpose of transitioning back to Society.

In this article, I will also discuss Transition Planning, Post-Incarceration Planning and effectively dealing with the Felon Stigma.

Halfway House

Halfway House now called an RRC or Residential Re-Entry Center, is located in an inmate’s general release address area, serves as Transitional based incarceration, typically the last few months of a sentence, and ultimately culminating in Home Confinement.

Resource:  Information on the Halfway House can be found on BOP.gov under the BOP Policy Statement 7310.04.

Ø     [Prison Case Manager]:  It is important to advocate early on with your Prison Case Manager, during your Program Team Meetings, to maximize your Halfway House Time.  If you are in RDAP, you automatically receive 6 months Halfway House.  The Case Manager then sends a referral to the BOP CCM, or Community Corrections Management, Office in your Release Address Region.  The CCM will determine your specific Halfway House location and time.  It is important your RRC Referral Report, called a Progress Report, from your Case Manager, accurately states all your information.  The FCDC Legal Book, The Federal White Collar Criminal Defense Guide has more details on the contents of a Referral / Progress Report.

Ø     [Employment]:  You are required to work a minimum of 40 hours per week in the Community.  I highly recommend lining up a job while in Prison and include a Job Offer letter in your RRC Referral Report.

Ø     [Representation]:  An experienced Legal Consultant and Post-Conviction Law Firm can certainly be useful in handling RRC placement issues with The CCM.  If you do not have much Halfway House time to do, perhaps they can negotiate sending you straight to Home Confinement.  This is typically accomplished with sentences less than 20 months.

Ø     [Halfway House Time]:  The Statutory Authority, 18U.S.C. 3624 (c) states RRC time is not to exceed 6 months of the last 10% of the prison term to be served (adjusted for Good Time).  As explained in the Post-Conviction Section, under the Second Chance Law, RRC time can be extended out, if you qualify.  The Second Chance Law eliminated the 3624 (c) 6 months or 10% provision and stated RRC time can be up to 12 months.  However, as I discussed in the Post-Conviction Article, getting more than 5 or 6 months RRC time is exceedingly difficult.  However, it is worth a try!  As an RDAP Graduate, you automatically receive 6 months Halfway House time.

Ø     [Components]:  There are three main Components to the Halfway House:

ü     Community Corrections Component:  The most restrictive component and where inmates from Prison usually start.  Your movement is limited to employment, religious services and recreation.  This is your Orientation to the RRC and lasts anywhere from a few days to two weeks, after which you can progress to the next component.

ü     Pre-Release Component:  Gives you more access to the Community and Family through day, evening and weekend social passes.

ü     Home Confinement Component:  This is where you will transition from the Halfway House and is limited to 10% of your sentence or 6 months, whichever is less.  So as an example, if your RRC time is 6 months, after 2-3 months, you will transition to Home Confinement.  This component allows you to reside at home for the remainder of your sentence and go to work.  You are recommended for Home Confinement on a case by case basis, determined by the RRC Staff (Case Manager, Counselor, Director).  Requirements include suitable housing, employment, clear conduct, completion of any Life Skills classes, and have a Release Plan approved by your Probation Officer.

Note:  The Second Chance Law permits Home Confinement to be 6 months or 10% of the whole prison term (not Good Time adjusted), whichever is less.  Understand the BOP is not required to give an inmate any Home Confinement time.

Ø       [RDAP Transitional Requirements]:  Please see the FCDC Legal Guide for the RDAP Transitional Requirements while at Halfway House and Home Confinement.

Ø       [Subsistence Pay]:  24% of your Gross Income will be deducted during Halfway House and Home Confinement as a subsistence payment.

Resource:  in the FCDC Leal Book, The Federal White Collar Criminal Defense Guide, I go into much more detail on the Halfway House Policy Statement and an overview of the BOP Community Corrections System; Halfway House Information, Rules, Requirements and Expectations – really everything you need to know about the Halfway House, told from firsthand experience (the same for Home Confinement and Supervised Release as well).

Home Confinement

Please see the previous section on Halfway Houses for information on transitioning to Home Confinement.  It is important to keep in mind that Home Confinement is still incarceration and has stringent rules, albeit a whole lot better than Prison or Halfway House!  You are confined to your home, allowed to go to work, have certain activities which are allowed and given a set curfew every night.  You will need to have a landline with no services on it (i.e. no voice mail, call waiting, 3 way calling, etc) so the RRC can account for your presence at home.

Resource:  Go to BOP.gov and search for BOP Policy Statement 7320.01 which has information on Home Confinement.

Ø       [Time]:  10% of your Prison Sentence or 6 months, whichever is less.  Refer to the previous discussion on Second Chance Law.

Ø       [Eligibility]:  Referred by the CCM to the RRC and qualified under the Home Confinement Component (Phase Three Level), then evaluated by the RRC Staff for Home Confinement.  Refer to the previous section on Halfway House for more details.

Ø       [Placement Straight to Home Confinement]:  You can be placed directly to Home Confinement from Prison, but it is rare, unless you have a short sentence, say 20 months or less.  There must also be no need for RRC services and you need to have the following circumstance:

ü     Supportive Family

ü     Stable Residence

ü     Confirmed Employment

ü     Had a Positive Institutional Adjustment

Ø       [Subsistence Payment]:  Same as the Halfway House:  25% of Gross Income.

Please see the FCDC Legal Guide for more details on Home Confinement.

Roles of the US Probation Officer and RRC Staff

Ø       [Probation Officer (PO)]:  You will be assigned a PO to oversee your Supervised Release, which follows when your sentence is completed.  The PO ensures you are honoring the terms of your Supervised Release as ordered by the Sentencing Judge in your Judgment.  The PO ensures you are paying any restitution and abiding by any restrictions in the Sentence Judgment.  For instance, I am prohibited from Banking during my Supervised Release term.

The PO will also conduct your Residence Inspection and Employment Verification when your Halfway House Referral is sent from the CCM – in my case, that was several months before my Halfway House date.  So it is good to have all your ducks in a row 8-9 months prior to your date.

It is important to have a good, open and honest relationship with your PO.  The PO is there to help you, answer your questions and address your concerns, as much as, ensure you are conforming to your Supervised Release requirements.  The PO does not work for the BOP but for the Court; however, the PO can recommend the Court to violate you back to Prison if you have gross or repeated violations.  The Court can also extend the term of your Supervised Release.  Follow the rules, and you will be fine.  For the most part, my experience with PO is that they are firm, yet fair.

Ø       [RRC Staff]: 

ü       Director:  Head of the Halfway House and works in conjunction with the Case Manager.

ü       Case Manager:  Approves your movements and activities.  Works with the Director to determine your eligibility to move through the different levels and components, which dictate your transition to Home Confinement.

ü       Counselor:  Similar to your Prison Counselor.  Your Counselor ensures you conform to RRC Rules and is there to counsel you as needed.  If you have Drug Treatment Aftercare, you will be assigned a Treatment Counselor.

Transition Planning

Transition Planning and Release Planning start early in your Prison time sentence and continues through RRC, Home Confinement and in to Supervised Release.  This primarily entails:

ü    Your Family Relationship

ü    Gainful Employment

ü    Mental Health and Drug / Alcohol Treatment and Counseling

ü    Adjustment to Institution & Community Life

As I said previously, it pays to have your Transition details all worked out several months before your anticipated Halfway House date.

Supervised Release

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G. 5D1.1) recommend the Sentencing Court include a term of Supervised Release when sentencing a Defendant to a term longer than one year in Prison.  The length of Supervised Release typically lasts from one to five years but can be longer depending on the offense, the maximum allowable sentence and any repeated criminal violations (U.S.S.G. 5D1.2).  Mine is for three years.

Ø       [Supervised Release Requirements]:  Please refer to the FCDC Legal Book, The Federal White Collar Criminal Defense Guide, for details.

Resource:  Supervised Release Conditions – see U.S.S.G. 51.3.

Ø       [Violations]:  If you violate the terms of Supervised Release, you can be sent back to Prison for up to the full term of Supervised Release.

ü       Before sending a violator back to Prison, a Court must consider some of the same Factors which it considered at Sentencing (18 U.S.C. 3582 (e)).

ü       The Seriousness of the violation dictates whether a violator will be sent back to Prison and for how long.  Usually it isn’t for the full time of the remaining Supervised Release Time.  The Criminal History Category also factors into how long a violator must serve in Prison (Federal Guidelines Manual, Chap. 7 Part B).

Ø       [Restitution & Fines]:  Pay them as your Judgment dictates to indicate your willingness to adhere to your Supervised Release terms.  Also, it gives the Court reason to terminate your Supervised Release early.  After a year of good conduct Supervised Release, with the support of your PO, you can petition the Court to waive your remaining Supervised Release.  You can also advocate a Restitution / Fine Settlement with your PO after a period of good conduct.

Resources:

ü       Restitution:  U.S.S.G. 5E1.1

ü       Fine:  U.S.S.G. 5E1.2

·         Fine Table: U.S.S.G. 5E1.2 (c)(3)

Restoring your Reputation

Rest assured, there is life after incarceration.  While you may have some hurdles along the way, as well as, experience loss while in Prison, you can re-build and re-live a healthy, productive life.  What made a huge difference in my transition from Prison back to Society was the fact that I embraced my Prison Time as an opportunity.  I had developed and followed a personal, spiritual and professional improvement plan, and this proactive plan really paid off; not only while I was enduring Prison, but also when I transitioned back to “life”.  I was a better person; a better businessman; and I had a deeper sense of my spirituality.

When I transitioned back to Society, I had a plan already in place, which turned out to be the vehicle to restore my reputation and credibility.  My hard work in Prison really paid off.

You will find, after such an experience, who and what are important to you in your life.  It becomes crystal clear what is important in life – you will have certain clarity.  Sure, you will have some fences to mend and relationships, both personal and business, to re-build.  I assure you, if you follow a plan, leading by action and not words, restoring your credibility and reputation will soon follow.

Ø       [The Felon Stigma]:  You will have to live with the fact that you are a Felon for probably the rest of your life.  You will have to check the Felon Box on Forms and Applications.  You will have to apply to regain certain Civil Rights.  You may not be able to travel to certain countries.  Your legal saga may live on in the Internet for years to come.  Whether you are a rehabilitated and better person following imprisonment, the Felon Stigma remains.

Yet you will find people who are less worried about your status as a Felon and more interested in who you are today.  Are you credible, honest, trustworthy, caring, humble and ethical, today?  That is the question most care about.  You have an awesome opportunity to live life anew, to live a new and improved life, and to live a more fulfilling life.  This new start is incredibly empowering, and it will, by far out-shadow the Felon Stigma attempting to follow you.

Ø       [Forgiveness]

Forgiveness is a two way street, but you need to forgive in order to be forgiven.  Forgiveness toward the Federal Government, Agents, Courts and Attorneys is hard, yet healthy.  Holding on to resentments is unhealthy.  Cleanse your heart and soul by forgiving others, and the return forgiveness will be overwhelming and empowering.

Forgiveness comes from doing the right thing and leading with Action, not words.  Most importantly, forgive yourself.  Without self-forgiveness, forgiveness is hard to give or receive.  If you keep an open mind, I think you will find a new life filled with forgiveness and opportunity.  People are understanding – give them a chance to be.

Ø       [Faith]:  Faith, Religion, Spirituality, Connection to God; whatever it means to you, is an important part of most inmates’ Prison experience, and a reassuring guide upon transition back to life.  When things got tough in Prison and road blocks came up in my Transition back to life, my Faith is what got me through.  Understanding my Spirituality and where I stand in the grand scheme of things, gives me strength and perspective, grace and patience.  Faith pulls me through the challenging times.

Important Things in Life

Put things in perspective!  I understand you have gone through an ordeal, probably the hardest thing you and your family have experienced in life.  As a result, you are changed and look at life differently.  Here are three areas that can help you put things in perspective in your transition back to your life.

Ø       [Priorities]:

You will find that your priorities have been realigned.  What was important to you is no longer.  While business is important to me today, it is no longer my top priority (although repaying my restitution and my debts are priorities).  It now follows Family, Friends, My Loved Ones and Faith.  My Personal pursuits, traveling, fishing and farming, are my outlets for my success, and I carve out time for each.

As a White Collar Felon, my biggest punishment wasn’t just my isolation in Prison, but also my Restitution to repay.  You may have both Restitution and Fines, life debt and legal expense debt to pay.  Your family may have suffered financially during this ordeal.  You feel the financial pressures.  I put things in perspective and planned my Financial Life around my most important life priorities.  Through Business Planning I developed Income Projections, from which I constructed Budgets (and vice versa).  I plugged in certain percentages of my projected income for my financial commitments.  By taking the time in Prison to plan my business and financial life for my return to Society, and creating tools to accomplish goals, I found my financial obligations were much less daunting than anticipated.

Planning and prioritizing, make financial pressures manageable.  You will be able to keep things in a healthy perspective.  Take the time to work through these things in Prison, get the input of your family, friends and business associates, and you will find your life to not just be manageable upon your return, but more fulfilling and worthwhile.

Please Note: FCDC also offers Business Consulting and Planning Services

  Ø       [Do What You Want to Do]

This is an opportunity for a new life.  The worst thing you can do is get stuck back in the rut of your old life.  No matter the challenges, loss and problems you may have encountered along this journey, you can begin anew!  This time around, do what you want to do, have a passion to do, and build it around what is important to you.  Build meaning back into your life!

Ø       [A Time for Family & Friends]

The greatest gift you can give to your loved ones is your time.  I don’t know about you, but I suspect like me, time for you was a premium, due to the long hours at the office or growing a company.  I re-prioritized my time for Family, Friends, Spiritual Growth, My Girlfriend and Volunteer Experience.  My life has more meaning and purpose as a result.  Business is important and repaying Restitution is important, but it is in perspective to life’s important priorities.  Time is your most precious commodity; I encourage you to spend it wisely.

Concluding Thought

Do you realize as a Felon, you have experienced a life changing event very few in this world have?   Or, conversely, you have experienced an event many in this world have?  Yes to both.  My point?  You can completely start fresh as many before you have.  You have a fresh slate to re-start your life, yet a lifetime of experiences.  Post-Incarceration can be your Liberty Bell.  Ring it loudly!

Instead of thinking yourself a Felon, think yourself a Fresh Start……Seize this opportunity!

Please read the FCDC’s Legal Guide’s Epilogue for further inspiration, gained through my experiences.  Also look for my new book coming soon, Life After Felony:  Empower Yourself.  The Power of a Re-Start.

This Article is written by the FCDC Legal Consultant, who has personal experience in Post-Incarceration Transition, from Halfway House to Home Confinement to Supervised Release.

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Disclaimer:  Federal Criminal Defense Consulting, LLC (FCDC) is a Legal Consulting Firm and does not act in the capacity of an Attorney. Ask an Attorney for Legal Advice regarding your situation.

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