“Remember that these men and women are coming back to our neighborhoods. The only question is the one the President asked—what’s being done to prepare them to live healthy, productive, law-abiding lives?” - Pat Nolan
“If we do not prepare these inmates for their return to the community, chances are that two-thirds of them be rearrested within three years. That means more crime, more victims, and more costly Prisons.” - Pat Nolan
At the end of the day, the individuals released from prison must return to our communities—but the conditions surrounding their return and reintegration can make or break their success upon reentering society. Incarceration alternatives, such as electronic monitoring and halfway houses, can increase the chances of success by keeping ex-offenders engaged with their communities and families while providing the support and guidance they need. These alternatives ultimately reduce recidivism while saving thousands of taxpayer dollars.
Electronic monitoring benefits the taxpayer, the community, and the offender. The taxpayer benefits because the monitor is less costly than the use of detention facilities. It takes about $100-160 a day to pay for one inmate in a detention facility; however, it costs an estimated $5.50-10.00 a day to pay for electronic monitoring. Electronic monitoring has proven to be safer to society, as a 2011 study found that the use of monitors reduces the risk of failure to comply with parole by 31%. It benefits the offender by reducing the risk of recidivism by 19%, as a 2016 study found. These monitors encourage ex-offenders to establish daily habits and routines so that once the monitor is gone, those habits remain. Clearly, electronic monitoring should be considered a suitable method of punishment and rehabilitation in as many cases as possible.
It costs 9.4% more to incarcerate an offender than it does to place him or her in a halfway house. Not only is placing an ex-offender in halfway house cost effective, but it also promotes rehabilitation, unlike detention facilities. Halfway houses also reduce recidivism: offenders who spend time in a halfway house between release and reentry rather than simply returning back to their normal lives are half as likely to recidivate. Though there are several advantages to the halfway house system, there are still areas for improvement. For instance, communities typically disfavor halfway houses, forcing the hallway houses to relocate to poorer residential areas with prevalent drug usage and high crime rates. This exposure makes it much more difficult for offenders to maintain a lawful and healthy lifestyle; thus, if halfway houses had a better location they would most likely have a higher success rate.
Halfway Houses should be reserved for substance abuse offenders in order to fulfill their purpose of promoting better habits. Those who don’t need this reinforcement should not have to attend a halfway house prior to their return home. Forcing all ex-offenders to attend unnecessarily wastes money, but targeting those who could benefit from the environment serves both the offender and the community. But without proper structure, these environments can prove counterproductive. In some instances, nonviolent offenders can be placed in halfway houses with violent offenders, negatively affecting both the non-violent and violent participants. This does the opposite of what halfway houses are intended for- instead of reducing the risk of recidivism, it increases it. When used properly, halfway houses can be extremely beneficial. Policies should be implemented to ensure that halfway houses are more than wasted money and time that prevent ex-offenders from immediately seeing their family.