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Understanding Halfway House Intake and the Importance of a Release Plan (9 things to plan for)

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

During a halfway house intake, staff assess your readiness to reintegrate into society. They aim to gauge what you've learned and assess your understanding of your situation, ensuring a successful transition.

Now, for those unfamiliar with a RELEASE PLAN, it's a crucial document integral to documenting your incarceration journey. Essentially, it's a resume detailing your pre-, during-, and post-prison accomplishments.

Upon my arrival at the halfway house, I presented my PRISON NOTEBOOK, containing all my prison activities such as newsletters, classes, grades, certificates, and most importantly, my RELEASE PLAN. While the intake personnel seemed overwhelmed by the amount of information, I sensed its significance. Subsequently, my case manager made reference to it, indicating its impact within the staff circles. BOTTOM LINE IT WORKED it helping me standout.

The release plan serves to demonstrate readiness for transition and understanding of the system. Initially, I used to assert my differences, but I soon realized that even the Bureau of Prisons staff can discern preparedness almost instantly. They require concise, straightforward answers to fulfill their duties effectively, despite their limitations.

The key individuals to leave an impression on are case managers, counselors, medical staff (with significant influence despite their lower visibility), and surprisingly, the higher-ups who were notably present at the halfway house compared to a camp setting.

Maintaining a friendly demeanor, using polite addresses like "sir" or "ma'am," holds value. Valuable advice received during my time at the Leavenworth A & O meeting emphasized how simple courtesies like "sir" or "officer" can go a long way.

Here are some questions/situations I recall encountering during the intake process:

1. Background Information: Questions about your personal history, including family background, previous addresses, employment history, and educational background.


2. Legal and Court-Related Inquiries: Queries about your legal history, pending court cases, probation or parole status, and any pending legal obligations.

3. Substance Use and Treatment: Questions about your history of substance use, past treatments or rehabilitation, and any ongoing support or counseling.

4. Health and Medication: Inquiries regarding your current health status, any medical conditions, prescribed medications, and specific health needs.

5. Goals and Expectations: Discussions about your goals, expectations, and plans during your stay at the halfway house. This might include your aspirations for later in life.

Wow I’m not sure what direction you go with this. I would argue for employment at your company or at least consider fighting for a medical waiver until they send you home. I would tell them until you have all the necessary medical support you can’t even think about it.

Remember you can only work within something like 60 miles of the HH.

You are either going to work, volunteer, or be on a medical waiver.

UPDATE: A new problem I am seeing for inmates.... is staff at the Halfway Houses are making it difficult for you to get things done (Getting passes to leave - essentials or see family, access to BP forms to file administrative remedies) if you are not programing. They shouldn't be able to do these things but if you have interaction with the BOP you know better (especially deny you access to forms). But they are claiming you are not doing the minimum required (programing) so you are making it difficult for you to get passes or BP's.

SO what is programing? There are EBRR (evidence based recidivism reduction) and PA's (program activities).

Under the First Step Act, an EBRR is defined as “either a group or individual activity that has been shown by empirical evidence to reduce recidivism or is based on research indicating that it is likely to be effective in reducing recidivism” and “is designed to help prisoners succeed in their communities upon release from prison.” FSA §3635(3) (internal markings omitted).

**** EBRR are things like classes (RDAP, UNICOR, Anger Management, etc)

A PA is defined as “either a group or individual activity that is designed to allow prisoners determined as having a minimum or low risk of recidivating to remain productive and thereby maintain a minimum or low risk of recidivating.” FSA §3635(5).

This is a confusing topic since the Halfway Houses don't really offer programing (other the RDAP/TDAP continued).

Basically if you work or go to school you should be able to get access to some free time (passes for community time).

HERE is the FSA program guide (its shows the classes/EBRR & PA's You can take)

Download PDF • 4.00MB

6. Support System: Questions about your support system, including family, friends, or any organizations or groups you are affiliated with that might assist during your transition.

7. Behavior and Attitude: Inquiries about your readiness and willingness to comply with halfway house rules, follow program guidelines, and contribute positively to the community within the facility.

8. Understanding of Halfway House Procedures: Verification of your understanding of halfway house rules, schedules, expectations, and available resources.

But ask him for the Hacks/cheat sheet. Where can go? how early can you be up and around? What case managers are good (I learned a valuable lesson with this question …like everywhere there are good/bad case managers….I asked one person about mine who gave me a vague answer…if I would have literally asked one more person I would have learned my guy was known to be the slowest CM with paperwork…and he was). I can’t imagine with how big your HH is how many case managers you will have ….. but that intake guy can MAYBE swing you to a good one….so I would treat him like high level staff.

You will notice a definite hierarchy with staff at the HH. The case managers hold all the power in the day so the lower staff just does day to day maintenance of the inmates (so rt off the bat I noticed inmates treating some staff with more respect then other staff…..BIG MISTAKE….the case managers go home at 5/6 and the other staff runs the roost….I saw serious payback for perceived slights)

Moral of the story….and something that I know you don’t have a problem with ….be nice to everyone….the most aloof, awkward guy at my HH actually had the most power. If he didn’t like you….you got bad chores….bad rooms/roommates….tested at bad times …. Denial of mail/packages….there is all sorts of ways they can mess with you.

9.Planning Ahead: Think about your goals and plans for your time in the halfway house. Consider what steps you'll take to reintegrate into society, acquire employment, seek further education, or other personal development objectives.

YOU GET IT… be ready for the standard “how are you going to be productive.?” Here & later?

That’s all I got!


Some of the staff questions aim to gather information necessary for the staff to provide appropriate support and tailor the program to your needs (SO SOME OF IT MAKES SENSE, although it’s for programs that either don’t exist or they say they do and don’t)

Being honest, and cooperative (I DIDN'T SAY "BE OPEN."….LESS IS MORE) during this process should set you up.

Remember, each halfway house may have its own specific requirements, so my info is based on my experience and hearing from others.

In my experience saying in some way shape or form that you made a mistake and prison helped you regain your footing …..IS THE SINGLE GREATEST THING TO TELL A BOP OFFICIAL. Admitting culpability is a game changer, and it helps you in so many ways credibility wise. In my case it’s true (I did mess up and prison helped me immensely)…I hope for most others it does also.

Prison/the BOP as an organization is beyond broken. Experiencing the loss of your freedom is truly life-altering. The issue lies in the myriad of punitive methods available to punish someone (literally hundreds of ways to do it better), yet the BOP seems to monopolize every conceivable way of executing them poorly.

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Dec 09, 2023

nailed it.

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