‘Halfway houses’ may ease transition from prison

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(Host) The Vermont Department of Corrections says it’s working to help establish a series of halfway-type houses for offenders under Corrections supervision. Officials say the facilities will help address community concerns about former prison inmates who are living on their own.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) The Department of Corrections will soon begin to solicit proposals to establish what Commissioner Steve Gold calls ‘structured transitional housing.’ Rather than living on their own once they’re released from prison, some former inmates would spend several months living in facilities owned and run by community based organizations. Gold says the idea is modeled on the network of private non-profit Dismas Houses, where residents are supervised by non-offenders who live with them.

(Gold) “The way these places function is that they look for people to be engaged in a variety of work and education and training and recreation activities on a daily basis.”

(Zind) Gold says each facility would house up to a dozen former inmates. Gold says supervised transitional housing will help the department address a chronic shortage of appropriate housing for offenders.

(Gold) “The other problem that I think it will alleviate is we sometimes see communities being concerned about where offenders are living. They may be living in motels or in neighborhoods or places where their neighbors become concerned that they aren’t supervised that they’re just living there.”

(Zind) Gold says the $580,000 the state has earmarked for the program will allow the department to place about one hundred offenders in supervised transitional housing once it is established. He says while the program isn’t a solution to community complaints, it’s a start.

The decision about who lives in these houses will be up to the organizations running them. Gold says he’s had interest from several groups, including faith based organizations and organizations working with women offenders.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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