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!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 This article seeks to identify short and long term effects of halfway house completion on parole success and subsequent recidivism from a sample of offenders released from a northeastern state’s correctional facilities between 2004 and 2008. Using propensity score matching techniques, we compare parolees released to parole after successfully completing a residential treatment program to a matched group of parolees released directly into the community from a correctional facility. Analyses show that parolees who successfully complete a halfway house program are more likely to successfully complete parole but the effect on residential programming on long-term recidivism are negligible. Keywords: Alternative Corrections, Community Corrections, Halfway Houses, Parole, Recidivism </p
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Journal of Sociological Research
ISSN 1948-5468
2015, Vol. 6, No. 2
The Impact of Halfway Houses on Parole Success and
S.E. Costanza (Corresponding author)
Center for Public Policy
University of South Alabama, United States
Stephen M. Cox
Central Connecticut State University
Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, United States
Ph # (860) 832-3138, Fax (860) 832-3014
John C. Kilburn
Texas A&M International University
Department of Social Sciences, United States
Doi:10.5296/ jsr.v6i2.8038 URL: jsr.v6i2.8038
This article seeks to identify short and long term effects of halfway house completion on
parole success and subsequent recidivism from a sample of offenders released from a
northeastern state’s correctional facilities between 2004 and 2008. Using propensity score
matching techniques, we compare parolees released to parole after successfully completing a
residential treatment program to a matched group of parolees released directly into the
community from a correctional facility. Analyses show that parolees who successfully
complete a halfway house program are more likely to successfully complete parole but the
effect on residential programming on long-term recidivism are negligible.
Keywords: Alternative Corrections, Community Corrections, Halfway Houses, Parole,
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2015, Vol. 6, No. 2
1. Introduction
Results of prior studies indicate that offenders released back into the community on parole
are convicted of a new offense over 60% of the time (Ostermann 2010; 2011). Parole often
results in technical violations that effect penalization as well (Petersilia and Turner 1993).
In this article, we compare parole success and recidivism for a cohort of offenders who were
released via traditional parole (also known as straight parole) to a matched group of
incarcerated offenders released via a less commonly utilized form of reentry: reentry through
a residential program, or halfway house.
Most often, parole is a situation where inmates are released into the community with
obligations to report their actions (either frequently or periodically) to correctional agencies
(Clear and Hardyman 1990). It has experienced escalated use in America since the 1970s.
Bureau of Justice (BJS) statistics indicate that between 2000 and 2009, the number of
offenders on parole increased from approximately 750,000 to 819,000 (Glaze and Bonczar
2009). Increased use of parole arose partially as a response to the idea that extended
traditional incarceration was harmful to prisoners (Hall and Immageron 1998) and partially
due to state fiscal crises associated with prison overcrowding (Austin and Krisberg 1982).
While the increased use of parole has probably provided some respite from prison
overcrowding, unfavorable results regarding the outcome of parole as a form of community
supervision are common in academic literature (Petersilia 2003; Simon 1993). Because
parole is controversial as a form of release, it is useful to examine other community-based
alternatives to reentry; such as transitional housing. However, because other forms of
community reentry are more expensive (Kilburn and Costanza 2011) they are only used in
marginalized context and for special cases (Freudenberg, Daniels, Crum, Perkins and Richie
2005). We focus two forms of community supervision: parole and residential treatment.
Corrections researchers have pointed to the challenges presented by growing numbers of
people in need of community corrections programming (Glaze and Bonczar 2006; Gray,
Conover and Hennessey 1978; Petersilia 1995; Jones 1991). The parole and probation
system is becoming overloaded. Recent research indicates that community correctional
officers are subject to secondary burnout and resilience issues stemming from large caseloads
(Sachs 2010). Other research by Pitts and Taylor (2011) suggests that parole officers,
especially male parole officers, may experience similar stress and subsequent burnout.
Some suggest a need for emphasis on community reintegration (Freudenberg 2001). Others
have advocated minimizing the use of incarceration based on the idea that offenders are often
victims of societal neglect (Hull and Knopp 1978). Others have suggested that more
research on existing forms of community supervision is important to fiscal sustainability
(Lowenkamp, et al. 2004).
Alternative post-correctional options, including substance abuse or mental health treatment
programs are often discussed (Freudenberg et al. 2005; Gumurku 1968; Glaze and Bonczar
2006) among existing forms of community supervision are residential homes, which
represent a community-based effort to facilitate offender reentry to society. While a small
percentage of these facilities are private or "for-profit," most are funded with governmental
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money through stipends or tax subsidies (Byrne and Taxman 2005; Pratt and Winston 1999;
Weisner and Room 1984). Ideally, residential facilities provide rehabilitation opportunities
for residents.
Some positive effects of halfway houses on populations in transition have been documented
(Gumrukcu 1968; Garrett 1985; Gouvis Roman and Travis 2004. Much research on
transitional housing points out the perceived and real threats that transitional housing presents
to communities (Piat 2000; Cowan 2003). While such transitional facilities simultaneously
represent state-sponsored efforts toward easing taxpayer burdens and rehabilitation,
communities often react poorly to the placement of such facilities (Orndoff 1978; Piat
Halfway houses (like prisons) are unique surroundings that offer offenders a chance to
network, learn either positive or negative values and make important social bonds. Social
networks may develop positive resources like finding a job (Granovetter, 1973) or they may
lead to the encouragement and learning of more criminal behavior (Sutherland, Cressey and
Luckenbill, 1992). Unlike the conditions that define most parolees’ circumstances, halfway
house residents are more closely supervised. Ideally, residential facilities provide
rehabilitation opportunities; however, it is known that intensive forms of supervision offer
variable results.
This article explores the characteristics of those who successfully complete halfway houses.
We assess type of reentry (halfway house participation or traditional parole) as a possible
instrumental predictor of recidivism and technical violation. We follow the argument that:
The only scientifically credible method for assessing intervention effects is a research design
that compares recidivism rates for offenders exposed to the intervention with those for a
substantially similar control group with no exposure to it” (Lipsey and Cullen 2007, p.299).
Whether parole is a lower-risk option for both communities and inmates is an issue
established here. The empirical study of halfway houses versus parole presents a very
important public safety question. The costs of halfway houses cannot be measured simply
in terms of taxpayer money, but also must be measured in terms of social justice. We also
recognize that halfway houses, like parole agencies, are funded by taxpayers, therefore they
must be also accountable for the quality and outcome of their services (Kilburn and Costanza
2011; Zippay and Lee 2008).
This article examines inmates who were released into the community on straight parole in
2004. They are statistically compared to those who experienced transitional residence
through a halfway house program. We address the issue of whether participation in
halfway house programs facilitates successful reentry or recidivism. The objectives of this
research include, but are not limited to, answering the following questions:
1) Who successfully complete halfway house programs?
2) Who successfully completes parole?
3) Are halfway house participants rearrested and/or technically violated at different
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rates and time periods than inmates released through traditional parole?
4) What is the long-term success rate of halfway house completers when compared to
similar ex-convicts who are released to parole?
2. Relevant Literature
There are three relevant types of literature examined. A first branch of literature involves
discussion regarding former inmates who successfully complete traditional parole and their
recidivism tendencies. The second type of literature focuses on individual characteristics of
offenders who successfully complete halfway house programs and then parole (which we
refer to in this paper as dual completion). The third type of literature involves assessment of
quality and integrity in institutional programming, which often presents itself as a spurious
factor in recidivism and is daunting to assess.
Parole completion and recidivism:
Research has shown mixed results as to characteristics of individuals who will successfully
complete parole. Early literature emphasized that many of the same factors that led to
desistance from criminal careers, would also be correlated with successful parole completion
(Hart 1923). Factors correlated with parolee success include access to basic amenities such
as clothes, a job and housing opportunities. In an early quantitative analysis of
Massachusetts’s parolees, Evans (1968) measured the impact of: higher wages, more skilled
employment and stable employment on the successful completion of parole. He concluded
that: "... labor market experience during parole is an important factor in parole completion."
(p. 211). Recent work by Bellair and Kowalski (2010) among a cohort of Ohio parolees
substantiates that indicators reflecting labor prospects in low-skill economic sectors help
explain disaggregated race differences in serious criminal recidivism.
The Level of Service Inventory (Revised LSI-R) along with other risk assessment tools are
commonly used by state agencies to assess the likelihood of parolees’ success (Bonta and
Matiuk 1990; Ward, Melser and Yates 2007). The LSI-R observes both time-tested factors
(such as having a job on the outside and history of familial violence, etc.) and adds to them a
measure of institutional risk (Bonta 1989; Girad and Wormith 2004). Institutional risk
factors involve the assessment of whether offenders were guilty of institutional infractions as
inmates. Such risk-factors are ideally assumed to correlate with the successful completion
of parole and desistance from criminal careers.
Substance abuse and mental health are also taken into account in the LSI-R. Baillargeon,
Williams, Mellow, Harzke, Hoge, Baillargeon and Greifinger (2009) examined the usefulness
of the LSI-R as a tool in predicting parole revocation among 8,149 inmates who were
released on parole from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in 2006. Logistic
regression indicated that TDJC inmates with a dual diagnosis (those suffering from both
major psychiatric disorder and a substance use disorder) were more likely to have their parole
revoked than inmates with no psychiatric disorders.
Others studies have used successful completion of parole as a variable in predicting
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recidivism, which usually refers to criminal lapses after serving the obligation of a formal
sanction. Ostermann (2010) discussed the many operationalizations of recidivism which
include: any post intervention arrests for new crimes, felony arrests, charges filed by a
prosecutor, reconvictions, reincarcerations for new crimes, returns to custody, absconding,
and other infractions. Stiener, Markarios, Travis and Meade (2012) operationalized such
behaviors as taking place among parolees during the first year of parole.
Using data taken from a New Jersey cohort released between 2006-2009; Ostermann (2010)
examined: post-release arrests for a new crime; post-release convictions that resulted from
new arrests and revocations of parole due to technical violations. Research indicated that
supervision is effective, in that, those receiving supervision were less involved in crime than
those not receiving supervision during release. However, regardless of the type of
post-release supervision, Ostermann pointed out that a large number of parolees recidivate.
Halfway House Completion as a predictor of successful parole and desistance
Halfway house research has often focused on individual characteristics of the
offender/resident and how these characteristics relate to both successful halfway house
completion and recidivism/desistance after release. Findings by Walsh and Beck (1990)
indicate that decreased alcohol use and attendance at religious services was associated with
successful re-entry among halfway house participants. Hartmann and Friday (1994) did a
follow-up study on halfway house discharges from a prison release cohort and found that
racial minorities and unsuccessful program completers were more likely to recidivate.
Hitchcock, Stainback and Roque (1995) found that those attending group sessions and
individual therapy were most likely to be dual completers.
A 1996 study conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Safety (Colling-Chadwick
1996) examined a cohort of offenders released from transitional residences between 2000 and
2004. Upon measuring for completion among transitional housing clientele, researchers
found that successful completers were: older, employed, more educated and had lower
criminal history scores. In 2006, findings by another Colorado research team (Hetz-Burrell
and English 2006) indicated that females were less likely to recidivate, as were those who
participated in mental health programs and intensive supervision parole.
Integrity in programming
A third type of research involves a more general assessment of institutional characteristics
associated with post-release services, and how these characteristics are related to outcomes.
Some researchers have advanced the idea that integrity in correctional programming is as
important as the achieved and ascribed characteristics of offenders. Gumrukcu (1968)
suggested that the quality of staff-patient interaction contributed to success in mental
health-specific halfway houses. The case of Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko (2001),
illustrates how transitional residences without substantial staff integrity can lead to problems.
The case highlighted an incident of a halfway house resident with a heart condition being
forced by a private correctional officer to climb five flights of stairs. The resident suffered a
heart attack.
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Gendreau et al. (1999) stressed that the Correctional Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI)
is an appropriate test of whether treatment programs work correctly. The CPAI provides an
assessment of whether treatment programs show integrity in correctional interventions
programming. For example, if a halfway house cannot provide a client network with
qualified social service providers, then such a program may lack integrity. Since each
halfway house differs in terms of its selection of staffing, programs and financing (Carpenter
1978; Kilburn and Costanza 2011) it is perhaps true that they should be assessed individually.
The CPAI measures 4 factors with regard to institutional integrity: organizational integrity;
program factors; change agent factors; and staff factors. Lowenkamp, Latessa, and Smith
(2006) use the CPAI to facilitate in an evaluation of 38 Ohio halfway houses. The researchers
found that failures in program implementation, such as cost effectiveness of the program,
were significant predictors of offenders’ readmission to prisons for new crimes.
Research by Bonta et al. (2008) showed that halfway houses with lower success rates had a
lack of staff integrity and also were beleaguered by probation/parole officers who spent too
much time on the enforcement aspect of supervision and not enough time on the service
delivery role of supervision. This study suggests that probation/parole officers sometimes
lack the necessary skills to influence behavioral change in their clients. Additionally, there are
issues regarding staffing integrity. Integrity, in this sense, does not only refer to the personal
motives/skills of correctional personnel, but the overall work conditions and occupational
hazards of working in the correctional field. Research by Pitts and Taylor (2011) discussed
the stressful experiences of probation/parole officers.
3. Data and Methods
Correctional and criminal history data were collected from a northeastern state on all inmates
released to straight parole from correctional facilities between 2004 and 2008. These data
included demographics, inmates’ movements from and into correctional facilities and
community supervision programs, risks and need assessment scores collected by the
correctional facilities prior to inmates’ release from prison, and criminal histories (i.e., arrests,
convictions, and sentences prior to and four years following prison release). The key
variables in our study are parole completion and recidivism after 12 months.
Data were collected from the corrections’ management information system database and the
state police criminal history databases. Data collected included: demographics (date of birth,
sex, race/ethnicity, town of residence prior to incarceration), movement dates and types of
movements into and out of correctional facilities (including halfway house releases and
parole), and risks and needs scores. Risk and need scores were generated by correctional
staff when inmates were first admitted to prison and every six months while incarcerated.
Risk scores were calculated for inmates’ history of violence, offense severity, length of prison
sentence, correctional disciplinary history, security level, and overall risk. These scores
were scaled from no risk (assigned a one) to high risk (assigned a four or five). Needs
scores were created and used by the state to place inmates into appropriate correctional
programming while institutionalized. Needs scores were coded from no need (a one) to
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high need (a five) for several categories including mental health, substance abuse, education
and vocational.
Criminal histories were obtained for each inmate and consisted of arrest dates, charges,
arraignment charges, verdicts and sentences. We used charges to create a measure for
charge severity based on whether the charge was a felony, misdemeanor or violation.
Parole completion was coded dichotomously with 1 assigned to parole completers (parolees
successfully discharged from parole) and 0 for parolees who were remanded to prison for a
new criminal offense or technical violation.
The original sample consisted of 1,946 parolees (1,522 were released from a correctional
facility to parole and 424 were released from a correctional facility to a halfway house to
parole). In order to test the effect of halfway house completion on parole success, it was
imperative that this group be comprised of similar offenders. Propensity score matching
techniques were used to create a parole group that closely resembled the halfway house
parole group. Propensity scores were calculated using correctional risk and need scores, age
at prison release, prior arrests, prior convictions, prior prison sentences, and offense
Prior to calculating propensity scores, we eliminated parolees having a sex offender score
because no sex offenders were in the halfway house parolee group. Also, we excluded
parolees who had a high correctional risk score because they were not eligible for halfway
house release prior to parole supervision. After performing these steps, there were only
seven females in the parolee group so females were excluded in this study. Although there
were 1,522 parolees released from a correctional facility, only 233 were included in the
matching process.
Following the creation of propensity scores we stratified the sample by race/ethnicity and
type of town where parolees’ lived prior to their incarceration (e.g., urban, suburban, rural).
Halfway house parolees were then matched to parolees using nearest neighbor matching.
We oversampled halfway house parolees to reduce variance across the propensity scores
(Rassen, Shelat, Myers, Glynn, Rothman and Schneeweiss 2012; Smith and Todd 2005).
The matching procedures resulted in a study sample of 577 parolees (354 in the halfway
house completion parole group and 223 in the comparative parole group). Table 1 presents
the comparisons of the two study groups. There were no statistically significant differences
between the groups for any of the defining variables
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The most prevalent racial/ethnic group was African-American (44% for the halfway house
parole group and 48% for the facility group) with the average age between 31 and 32 years
old. The average number of prior arrests for both study groups was 11 with the average
number of prior prison sentences of 3. Of the correctional-assessed needs and risk scores,
the highest average needs were for vocational (3.6 for the halfway house group and 3.5 for
the facility group), substance abuse (3.3 for the halfway house group and 3.4 for the facility
group), and education (2.5 for the halfway house group and 2.6 for the facility group). The
risk scores were fairly low for all of the risks (the averages being under 2.5).
4. Findings
Univariate Analysis of Propensity-matched sample
The first analyses compared each group’s parole outcomes (successfully discharged from
parole or rearrested/remanded while on parole) and recidivism one year after parole discharge.
While it is possible for parolees to be remanded to prison and re-released on parole, we
elected not to follow them after their initial remand. In comparing parole outcomes, the
halfway house parole group had a statistically significant higher parole completion rate than
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the facility group (60% of the halfway house parole group successfully completed compared
to 48% of the facility parole group, χ2=6.93, df=1, p.<.05). These differences demonstrate
that parolees who successfully complete a halfway house program were more likely to be
successfully discharged from parole than parolees who were released from a correctional
facility directly to parole.
We also followed parolees in both groups one year after they were successfully discharged
from parole. The one-year follow-up period was used because it was possible that not all
study participants had been discharged from parole for more than one year when the
follow-up data were collected. One year after being successfully discharged from parole,
halfway house parolees had a statistically significant lower rearrest rate (28%) than facility
parolees (36%)(χ2=4.46, df=1, p.<.05). These two chi-square analyses found that parolees
who successfully completed a halfway house program prior to parole release were more
likely to be discharged from parole and less likely to be arrested following parole completion
than parolees released from a correctional facility directly to parole.
Multivariate Analysis of Parole Discharge and Recidivism After Parole Discharge
The second analyses used logistic regression techniques to determine if halfway house
completion was a significant and positive predictor of successful parole discharge and
remaining crime-free after successful parole discharge. Table 2 presents the result of the
first logistic regression analysis predicting successful parole discharge. There were four
predictors of successful parole discharge: age at prison release (.35), risk score for offense
severity (.55), risk score for sentence length (-.88), and halfway house completion (.53). In
other words, older parolees who lived in a transitional residence and committed more serious
offenses but were given shorter prison terms were most likely to successfully complete parole
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Of key interest is the halfway house completion indicator. Parolees who successfully
completed a halfway house program were more likely to successfully be discharged from
parole. The odds ratio of 1.71 indicates that halfway house completers were almost twice as
likely to complete parole as parolees straight out of correctional facilities.
For those parolees who successfully completed parole (212 halfway house parolees and 107
facility parolees), we examined arrest rates up to one year following parole discharge and
conducted a similar logistic regression analysis (Table 3).
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There were three statistically significant predictors of rear rest at the .05 level: age at prison
release (-.43), vocational need (.41) and sentence length (-.72). As is the case with
successful parole completion, there are similar variables that result in a lower likelihood of
rear rest. Offenders who most likely to be rearrested one year following parole discharge
were younger, had shorter prison sentences, and had higher vocational needs.
There were two statistically significant predictors of recidivism at the .10 level, halfway
house completion (-.48) and drug offender (-.52). Those inmates who completed residential
transition were almost half as likely (0.42) to recidivate after release. Those parolees who had
committed drug violations were less likely to be rearrested (0.59). These finding confirms
much of the classic literature about social bonding and desistance (see: Hirschi 1969, Shover
1985) as well as an confirming an early finding on parole completion by Evans (1967).
Although halfway house completion may be vital to some inmates developing social
networks and life skills, regardless of halfway house completion, there are still many
variables that are more powerful predictors of recidivism.
5. Discussion
In this analysis, we show that successful halfway house completion produces short-term and
long-term positive effects even in the presence of several other variables that have significant
effects on parole completion and recidivism. Moreover, when factored in with a matched
set of traditional parolees, halfway house completers were almost two times as likely to
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successfully complete parole. In addition, successful completers of a halfway house
program were almost half as likely to recidivate as a matched sample of clients who were
either released directly into the community or selected for halfway house programming and
failed during transition.
The findings of this study do not directly confirm, but imply that certain types of offenders
might benefit more from successful residential completion than others. Specifically, we
may look at the parolees in the propensity-matched sample who succeed (or fail) regardless
of halfway house programming. It makes sense to assume that people who are already
predisposed to recidivate will probably not benefit a great deal from what halfway house
programming has to offer. Given the cost of rehabilitation, state correctional systems may
find a best practices approach to consider allocation of resources for transitional residences to
those who are already statistically low probabilities for recidivism.
First, older parolees are significantly more likely to be successfully discharged from parole
and less likely to experience recidivism issues. It is possible that older clients may
experience more benefits from halfway house programming, given their lower probability for
recidivism. Second, parolees with longer sentence lengths and parolees who were initially
locked up on drug charges are significantly more likely to experience successful discharge
from parole and lower recidivism rates.
For groups of offenders who had long stays in prison, halfway house programming and
supervision may be helpful while gradually reintegrating them back into their communities.
Reentry from several years in prison could be facilitated by well-programmed transitional
residences. For drug offenders, transitional supervision might provide networking
opportunities for additional medical care and/or relapse prevention.
A final finding is that parolees with a high need for vocational skills are more likely to
recidivate. In this sense, the halfway house could proved additional opportunity for parolees
who already have marketable skills. Halfway house programming could focus on
preventing recidivism through enhancing contacts with labor markets.
Of course, an alternate response might be to state-sponsored halfway house programming to
serve those parolees who are most likely to recidivate. Such a strategy would involve
targeting younger, non-vocationally skilled, non-drug offenders who have had the shortest
terms in prison for halfway house placement. However, given the tension between halfway
houses in many of the communities they are placed in, this would probably create a great deal
of uneasiness or political controversy.
6. Conclusions
Parolees who effectively complete halfway house programming significantly vary from
people released on straight parole in both successful parole completion and recidivism within
one year of discharge. However, these results are not surprising considering that many
states already segregate high-risk parolees from low-risk parolees when considering halfway
house placement options. In the northeastern state that this study was conducted in, for
example, sex offenders and high-risk violent criminals are not eligible for halfway house
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placement. This is partially due to liability concerns about criminal behavior and partially
due to sensitivity to community concerns about safety and well being. Halfway houses may
take away a sense of community in neighborhoods and ultimately culminate in "not in my
backyard" (NIMBY) grassroots movements (Costanza, Kilburn and Vendetti-Koski 2013).
Public support for social programs, such as halfway houses, has been weak since the 1970s.
At some level, the issue of halfway houses becomes one of economic sustainability. As
prisons become more crowded, further research should examine the economic benefits of
halfway house programs versus the potential losses. “How much can be saved by the state
from the implementation of halfway house programs?” remains a paramount question to be
addressed. Residential programming is often more expensive than straight parole,
especially when such programming involves substance abuse treatment (Byrne and Taxman
2005; Griffith, Hiller, Knight and Simpson, 1999).
A next step in research may be to obtain and analyze data from another state that allows
higher risk parolees to participate in halfway house programming. Findings here indicate
that successful completers of transitional programming are less likely to recidivate than
others, however the low risk that halfway house residents already present may be a spurious
factor. As noted, these findings seem to support some of the classic theories on social
control and recidivism. Age, as an important factor in measuring recidivism was first
proclaimed by Travis Hirschi (1969). Shover (1985) advanced the idea that ties to a job and
amount of previous time served would facilitate desistance from criminal activity. We feel
that similar findings could be replicated in a state such as Texas that is less discriminatory
about who is selected for halfway house programming.
Another impetus for future study should be a concern with variables that predict integrity of
halfway house programming as it relates to successful parole completion and recidivism.
Our data only included limited demographics and institutional data about the population
being researched, and no data on the transitional residences where these parolees were placed.
Our data do not tell us whether that halfway houses under observation were functioning with
integrity. Program quality may combine with several individual factors (such as age and
severity of offense) to affect the actual benefits received from transitional residential
programs by clientele.
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... While stigmatization within transitioning houses receives little empirical research effort, scholars continue to evaluate transitioning houses by using and comparing recidivism rates of program completers and non-completers (Constanza, 2015;Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2014;Eisenberg, 1985;Jung, 2014;McVay et al., 2004;Twill et al., 1998;Walsh & Beck, 1990). Nonetheless, their measurements on re-offending are inconsistent, using different definitions and criteria (Fazel & Wolf, 2015). ...
... Nonetheless, their measurements on re-offending are inconsistent, using different definitions and criteria (Fazel & Wolf, 2015). Unsurprisingly, comparisons of recidivism rates of those completing programs at halfway houses and those who do not, discover mixed results (Constanza, 2015;Eisenberg, 1985). ...
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Building on prior work on criminal stigma, this article presents empirical findings on how criminal stigma operates within a confined environment: a transitioning house in Chicago. The study adopts an ethnographic case study approach. Empirical data consist of 116 hours of participant-observation, eight interviews and eighteen self-administered surveys. The study investigates whether or not a halfway house provides a metaphorical “safe umbrella” from criminal stigmatization for previously incarcerated individuals. This research includes attempts for and threats to the formation of this “safe umbrella”. Staff members and guest speakers provided structured opportunities (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy, employment and self-concept coaching) for residents to discuss emotion, weakness and self- reliance as a response to actual or expected stigma from the outside world. However, threats to this “safe umbrella” occurred infrequently. This included the feeling of being labeled by speakers, staff or fellow residents, as well as reluctance in receiving assistance on stigma management. While occasional stigmatization operated within this confined and unique setting, this paper concludes that available services created a safe, welcoming and supportive “umbrella” for previously incarcerated clients.
... While stigmatization within transitioning houses receives little empirical research effort, scholars continue to evaluate transitioning houses by using and comparing recidivism rates of program completers and non-completers (Constanza, 2015;Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2014;Eisenberg, 1985;Jung, 2014;McVay et al., 2004;Twill et al., 1998;Walsh & Beck, 1990). Nonetheless, their measurements on re-offending are inconsistent, using different definitions and criteria (Fazel & Wolf, 2015). ...
... Nonetheless, their measurements on re-offending are inconsistent, using different definitions and criteria (Fazel & Wolf, 2015). Unsurprisingly, comparisons of recidivism rates of those completing programs at halfway houses and those who do not, discover mixed results (Constanza, 2015;Eisenberg, 1985). ...
In the absence of systematic data collection by the state and federal governments, efforts to collect information on officer-involved shootings (OIS) have been assumed by the public and news agencies. In a combination of journalistic reporting and what is known as crowdsourcing, media and masses of individuals volunteer their time to identify OIS incidents and enter them into online databases. These efforts are invaluable in describing interpersonal violence between citizens and law enforcement, but it is not well known to what extent the media-based datasets are comprehensive. In the present study, we compared data from three major media-based websites to official data from five police departments that made their data available—Dallas, Denver, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Knoxville. We found a higher rate of matches than discrepancies with regard to fatalities but a much lower rate with regard to non-fatal shootings. Systematically recording and reporting OIS incidents should be the function of the government. Before—and if—that happens, our findings add to the growing evidence that media-based efforts, combined with crowdsourcing, can be useful though limited alternatives.
... Having a plan for release or support during this transition can help to foster reintegration between prison and the free world (Clark, 2016;Costanza, Cox, & Kilburn, 2015;Wong, Bouchard, Gushue, & Lee, 2018). As such, three dichotomous controls were used to represent various supports and control forces designed to increase successful reintegration, including parole status, a reentry plan, and residing in a halfway house. ...
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Objectives Longitudinal data offer many advantages to criminological research yet suffer from attrition, namely in the form of sample selection bias. Attrition may undermine reaching valid inferences by introducing systematic differences between the retained and attrited samples. We explored (1) if attrition biases correlates of recidivism, (2) the magnitude of bias, and (3) how well methods of correction account for such bias.Methods Using data from the LoneStar Project, a representative longitudinal sample of reentering men in Texas, we examined correlates of recidivism using official measures of recidivism under four sample conditions: full sample, listwise deleted sample, multiply imputed sample, and two-stage corrected sample. We compare and contrast the results regressing rearrest on a range of covariates derived from a pre-release baseline interview across the four sample conditions.ResultsAttrition bias was present in 44% of variables and null hypothesis significance tests differed for the correlates of recidivism in the full and retained samples. The bias was substantial, altering effect sizes for recidivism by a factor as large as 1.6. Neither the Heckman correction nor multiple imputation adequately corrected for bias. Instead, results from listwise deletion most closely mirrored the results of the full sample with 89% concordance.Conclusions It is vital that researchers examine attrition-based selection bias and recognize the implications it has on their data when generating evidence of theoretical, policy, or practical significance. We outline best practices for examining the magnitude of attrition and analyzing longitudinal data affected by sample selection.
As efforts to reverse mass incarceration increase, so does the need to supervise more individuals in the community. Faced with heightened demand, community corrections agencies increasingly use risk assessment to allocate resources efficiently and improve public safety. While both static, historical factors as well as dynamic, changeable factors have been incorporated into risk assessment instruments, one factor notably absent is the amount of time an individual remains in the community recidivism-free. Using parametric and discrete hazard models, we examine the relationship between recidivism-free time and observed recidivism among individuals on parole supervision in Pennsylvania where dynamic risk assessment is used. Specifically, we assess whether recidivism-free time predicts recidivism independent of these risk scores and the extent to which single and repeated risk scores accurately predict recidivism. Findings support the use of dynamic risk instruments but suggest that recidivism prediction may benefit from considering recidivism-free time. Implications for community corrections policy are discussed.
This paper investigates the effect of semi-liberty as an alternative to prison on recidivism in France. Our analysis is based on a unique dataset comprising 1,445 offenders, all eligible to semi-liberty. In the absence of an instrumental variable affecting access to semi-liberty but unrelated to recidivism, we turn to selection-on-observable methods as well as sensitivity analyses to bound the causal effect of interest. Our results under treatment exogeneity (Cox regressions) and conditional independence (entropy balancing matching) show that semi-liberty is associated with a reduction of 22% to 31% in offenders’ hazard of recidivism in the five years after release. The estimated effects decrease, but remain negative and significant when credible confounders are introduced. Overall, our analysis lends strong support for a beneficial effect of semi-liberty compared to prison.
Halfway houses are a form of community supervision and correctional programming that have become a staple intervention in recent years. Despite the ingrained belief in their benefits with respect to successful reintegration, this assumption may not be justified based on the existing literature. The current study provides a systematic review and meta-analysis of nine studies examining the effects of halfway houses on recidivism. Overall, the findings suggest that halfway houses are an effective correctional strategy for successful reentry (log odds ratio [LOR] = 0.236, z = 9.27, p < .001). Further work is needed to determine best practices for programming and meeting the needs of different participants.
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The geographic placement of halfway houses is an important issue in the field of community corrections. Much research has under-scored the social justice issues involved with the subsidization and placement of halfway houses within certain communities. A com-monly held belief is that state and local governments actively target lower socioeconomic status, minority communities for the place-ment of houses, as residents have little power to resist. This article uses data collected on Connecticut towns from 2000 to 2008 and reveals that state-subsidized halfway houses are significantly more likely to be sited in non-White communities with high index crime rates.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of jailed Americans leave prison and return to society. Largely uneducated, unskilled, often without family support, and with the stigma of a prison record hanging over them, many, if not most, will experience serious social and psychological problems after release. Fewer than one in three prisoners receive substance abuse or mental health treatment while incarcerated, and each year fewer and fewer participate in the dwindling number of vocational or educational pre-release programs, leaving many all but unemployable. Not surprisingly, the great majority is rearrested, most within six months of their release. As long as there have been prisons, society has struggled with how best to help prisoners reintegrate once released. But the current situation is unprecedented. As a result of the quadrupling of the American prison population in the last quarter century, the number of returning offenders dwarfs anything in America's history. A crisis looms, and the criminal justice and social welfare system is wholly unprepared to confront it. Drawing on dozens of interviews with inmates, former prisoners, and prison officials, the book shows us how the current system is failing, and failing badly. Unwilling merely to sound the alarm, it explores the harsh realities of prisoner re-entry and offers specific solutions to prepare inmates for release, reduce recidivism, and restore them to full citizenship, while never losing sight of the demands of public safety. As the number of ex-convicts in America continues to grow, their systemic marginalization threatens the very society their imprisonment was meant to protect.
The long debate over structural unemployment and the enactment of manpower legislation have stimulated students of the labor market to renew their interest in problems of disadvantaged workers. Among the disadvantaged whose problems have received little professional attention from economists are men recently released from prison. In this paper Mr. Evans seeks to partially redress this deficiency by discussing the influence of success in the labor market on subsequent criminal activity of parolees. In the first section he considers the theoretical context for his analysis, and in the second he presents some results of a survey of two samples of men released from Massachusetts correctional institutions in 1959. In the third section he suggests some public policy implications of his conclusion that success in the labor market is an important factor in parole success.