What Are The General Rules Of A Halfway House?
To ensure that the resident receives the best care and support a halfway house can provide, there are rules and regulations imposed by the houses. Once it is understood what it’s like is to live in a halfway house, one will easily realize that the success of these houses is because of the rules in place. The halfway house rules may vary from one facility to the other.
Halfway house rules are in place to ensure that the residents adhere to a disciplined system and a daily routine that will transition them to being responsible contributors to the society in their sober life. Violation of these halfway house rules is frowned upon and can lead to consequences such as fines and eviction from the house. Below are some of the typical rules found in these houses, even though these rules vary between facilities.
- Resident must be sober at all times
- Resident must adhere to the curfew time set by the house
- Resident must be actively involved in doing chores of the halfway house
- Violence is strictly prohibited
- Stealing or destruction of property is forbidden
- Residents are expected to find full-time employment
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Each facility will have specific halfway house visiting rules that need to be followed by the visitors. Halfway house visiting rules are in place mainly for security reasons. These rules make certain that the residents are not exposed to any physical danger or substance at any point of time during their stay.
Who Can Visit?
Facilities usually have a stipulated number of visitors a resident can have. These include immediate family members, approved friends, and attorneys. Usually, all visitors are required to be pre-approved by the staff. Individuals who have an outstanding warrant is currently on parole or is considered a security risk will not be approved to visit the residents.
Visitors are required to have a valid ID and must be 18 years of age. Minors are allowed to visit, provided they accompanied by a guardian or a parent. Most facilities do not entertain overnight guests.
Halfway houses usually have assigned visitation areas. This could be the grounds, a common area, or a specific visitor’s area. Visiting vehicles in areas such as the driveway is usually prohibited.
Halfway house visiting rules also include specific visitation days and hours. Typical visitation hours on weekdays are 9 am – 5 pm. Weekends may have longer hours. Usually, halfway houses do not allow 24 hours visitation. Some halfway houses do permit walk-in visits which may be subject to availability.
Items You Can Bring
Halfway houses have very strict rules in place about the items that may or may not be brought during visitation. Belongings are usually checked by the facility before the visitation. Lockers may be provided to store items that cannot be taken along.
Items like ID, spectacles, diapers, and bottles for accompanying children are permitted. However, the list of restricted items is longer. This includes medication, cigarettes, weapons, electronic items like mobile phones and cameras, food and drinks, lighters, etc. It is important to
check with the facility on what items can be brought when visiting.
What To Wear When Visiting
Halfway house visiting rules are drafted according to local regulations. Usually, facilities require visitors to dress appropriately. This includes not wearing attires that are too tight etc. The rules on attire vary across states. Make sure this is checked with the halfway house before planning a visit.
Some halfway houses have the facility of video visits where video conversations can be conducted with the house resident via mobile phones or computers at the convenience of one’s house. This helps in saving time and expense while avoiding traffic.
Federal Halfway Houses
Federal halfway houses are intended for federal offenders who are at the end of their sentence to help transition them to reintegrate into the society. Federal halfway house visitation rules are generally the same as other halfway houses. This includes permitted visitation only in specific areas. Visitors may not be allowed to enter the building. Instead, there might be other assigned
areas for visitation.
Like other halfway houses, visitation hours are typically 9 am – 5 pm on weekdays with longer hours during weekends. Federal halfway house visitation rules also prohibit items like drugs, weapons, and alcohols when meeting residents.
Halfway house phone rules are in place for the residents to ensure overall safety.
Possession of mobile phones is permitted in some halfway houses and prohibited in others. Halfway house phone rules of every facility will clearly state this. Facilities may prohibit custody of smartphones. In other houses, mobile phones with cameras and internet access may not be allowed.
In houses that do not permit cell phones, residents will have to surrender it to the house management and will be returned only upon leaving the house. For those who are allowed to keep their cell phones, halfway house phone rules may typically be like below:
- Phone conversation volume must be minimum
- Phone calls must be limited to a certain time length only. Ex: 15 minutes
- Cell phones are not permitted during group or individual sessions
Generally, violation of these rules can result in the confiscation of the cell phone.
In houses where cell phones are not permitted, a resident phone might be available that can be used by all residents. However, residents might be expected to limit their phone calls.
Since every halfway house has strict rules in place, violation of these rules also has serious consequences. A case of halfway house violation was reported in 2014 that plagued Oklahoma’s have the largest Halfway Homes. However, let’s list out some of the serious halfway house violations.
- Use or possession of alcohol or drugs – Violation can result in immediate discharge from the house without prior notice
- Absence from recovery meetings or therapy sessions – Failure to attend the meetings results in receiving a warning
- Physical violence and abuse- Residents will be removed from the facility and charges may be filed
- Theft or damage to property – Warnings will be given to residents. Consistent violations will result in eviction from the house
- Smoking in non-designated areas – Consequences of violating the same include fine or dismissal
- Non-participation in chores– Inspections are done daily. Violation can result in a warning.
- Causing disturbances to sessions conducted – Resident may be asked to leave and given a warning
In federal halfway houses, offenders who have not officially completed their sentence may be sent back to the prison if they are booked for halfway house violations which can impact their conditions for release.
Most federal houses issue warnings or ‘pull-ups’ when violations occur. No serious action is taken until the number of warning exceeds a certain number. In such cases, the residents are immediately evicted from the house and appropriate charges may also be filed.
Halfway house violations are not entertained and can have serious impacts on the recovery program of the addict. If a resident is evicted from the house, they may also be removed from the program.
While living in a facility, the sense of community is developed and the halfway house rules instill accountability in oneself. This is guaranteed to be an onset of quality life. Halfway house visiting rules keep a check on who is allowed to visit a resident.
This ascertains that the resident is not exposed to any kind of substance or danger. Similarly, the halfway house phone rules guarantee that the communications by the resident are within the check. Halfway house rules along with the skill training and therapy sessions aim at the growth of the individual to function well in the society.
Living a substance-free life allows an individual to experience life to its fullest. This dramatically increases the quality and purpose of life. The journey to being sober is a challenge for addicts but it is worth the struggle.