BOP Facility Staff Memo to Inmates Suggests Delays Caused by RRC (Halfway House) Closures

A memo dated October 5, 2017 sent to inmates at FCI Morgantown by staff at the BOP facility lists 11 Residential Reentry Centers that “will be closing.”  It refers to a separate notice dated September 24, 2017 sent to the facility detailing the closures.  The memo strongly suggests that some of these closures have already taken place: “These closures are creating a ripple effect across all RRC’s.”

 

For inmates awaiting designation to an RRC or release to home confinement, the “ripple effect” looks like a rogue wave threatening to wash away their hopes of getting out of prison.  The memo says that “[s]taff at the Residential Reentry Management Office are attempting to provide dates for referred inmates so all will have some time to adjust to re-entering the community.”  (meaningful emphasis in original).   This appears to contradict what the BOP Spokesman Justin Long told Reuters for their recent article examining the closure of RRC’s.  He told them that the closures “have not reduced referral rates or placements.”

So far, none of this is particularly surprising; in November of last year, Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, announced in a memo to the BOP Acting Director titled “Reforming Federal Halfway Houses” a policy whereby the existing RRC contracts will not be automatically renewed when they expire (among other significant RRC policy changes).  NCIA asked the BOP Public Affairs office several questions about the October 5 memo, including whether the closing of the RRC’s is related to the Yates memo.  We were told that a FOIA request would be necessary to receive this information.

What is very surprising to us is the justification given for why some inmates expecting to be released to home confinement won’t be released on time.  They were told that: “Many states require a minimum amount of time at the RRC prior to release.”  (again emphasis in original).  NCIA is unaware of any state laws that supersede or limit the BOP’s authority to designate a federal inmate to home confinement.  We asked the BOP if they could provide an example of such a state law, or a program statement addressing the issue.  They invited a FOIA request on this topic as well.

In the meantime, if you have any insight into the state law issue, or have information about the other topics in the memo, please send me an email: jdallen@ncianet.org

Joseph D. Allen, Esq.

Senior Counsel, Criminal Justice Services at National Center on Institutions and Alternatives
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