As most of you know, this Friday is the (supposed) deadline for all the good time modifications to be complete. Due to this, my release date will change from November 2020 to approximately August 2020. Based on that, I will be about 13 months to the door and be ready to be submitted for RRC (halfway house) placement. While this was brought up at my last unit team meeting in February, I had to fight just to get them to submit me for anything at all. Why? I have family support and there is no halfway house near me. Makes a ton of sense huh?
Well, because of that, I have been researching a bit, even going as far as speaking to several attorneys about what can be done to better my chances. With prices ranging from $1,500 to $7,500, I seemed to get a similar answer. We’ll call people on your behalf and make the best case. That’s it! That is the million dollar secret. Well, ok turns out there may be more to it that. You have the absolute right to appeal any decision made by the B.O.P. through the administrative remedy program. Truthfully, when it comes to RRC placement, this is actually one of the few things I have seen inmates be more successful on than any other situation.
There are five parts to the Second Step Act that your unit team must consider. These include the nature of the offense, the history and characteristics of the offender, the facilities contemplated, any statements made by the court and any statements made by the Sentencing Commission. In my case, it seems that they are barely looking at anything. Due to my charge being a sex offense, I was told that I could not even get home confinement. Well, turns out not only can we get it, their is a program statement that even spells out what forms must be filled out before a sex offender is submitted.
I will be releasing to Western Arkansas and am currently incarcerated in Western Missouri. The halfway house in Springfield is my closest facility, but I have been told that more than likely I will be sent to Lake Charles, Louisiana. Why? Well in addition to the regular B.O.P. regions, there are different RRM regions as well and Arkansas and Louisiana are the only two in my region. However, a case I found out of Minnesota called Ambrose v Jett (citation unavailable) states that while any decision by the B.O.P. is final, any decision made specifically by the halfway house is not because they are a contractor and not a government agency.
After reading this, I began to think. There is a halfway house in Little Rock (about 97 miles from my release residence), but I was told I cannot go there because of my charge. I don’t know if this is because of state law (being too close to a school, park, etc.) or if it is just a halfway house policy. Turns out if it is just a halfway house policy, I can argue that they can’t make that decision because the law specifically says only the B.O.P. can and they are not the B.O.P.
In addition, changes made by the First Step Act says that even if you are within 500 miles, you can still apply to a facility (including a halfway house) even closer. Also, 34 USC 30541 (I think) says that priority for RRC placement should be given to high risk offenders, such as sex offenders. So these are just a few ways you can try and argue your case. I have been locked up just over 9 1/2 years and while I am striving to be as successful as possible upon my release, there are many barriers and obstacles that I will face.
If you are familiar with your probation officer before you are released, develop a good relationship with him or her. Basically, the courts and the B.O.P. will do whatever they suggest. If they think you would be more successful in one halfway house over another, ask them to send their recommendation to your unit team or the RRM office for their area. While it is not binding, they do have a lot of say so. Also, if you can convince them to suggest direct home confinement because you have a place to live, a job, money, and so forth, go for that as well. Home confinement is not run as a program just through RRCs, but many, if not all, probation offices now offer these monitoring services. So that is another thing to look at.
I plan on going to team again in August or September and that is when my real quest will begin. However, before that time, I researching as much as I can on various halfway houses near me, including their specific rules and policies, trying to work things out with my probation officer and much more. I can only hope that my experience will at least serve as a guide to helping others out when their time comes.