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Half-Truths:The Complicated Story of D.C.'s Halfway House "Escapees"

The front page of The Washington Post on Sunday, January 4, 1999 featured an article on escapes from D.C. halfway houses. The Post reported that during a three month period, “1,125 inmates were sent to halfway houses in the District, and 376, about one in three, escaped.” Such a figure, if true, would be  extraordinary. It would suggest serious  mismanagement in D.C. halfway houses. If it were further true, as The Post stated, that many of these people committed serious crimes such as murder and robbery, the mismanagement would be putting District citizens at risk. These claims were so  alarming, we decided to do our own analysis of the problems facing District halfway houses.

While the District imposes long sentences for violent crimes and has the highest incarceration rate in the country, anyone who breaks the conditions of their sentence or the conditions of their release, whether they be pre-trial or on parole, must be reigned in. The courts, the police and the corrections system must work to ensure that the real threats to public safety are kept behind bars both to protect the public, and to punish and  rehabilitate felons. We did discover a mixture of legitimate concerns, crossed lines of authority, and scanty data. However, we also found errors that undermine the picture painted of what is happening in our halfway houses.

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Keywords: Community-Based Services, Criminal Justice, Report, Washington D.C.

Posted in Criminal Justice (Adult)

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