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Program Profile: New Jersey Halfway Back Program

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 13, 2011

Program Summary

This program serves an alternative to incarceration for technical parole violators or as a special condition of parole on release from prison. The program, which is run at secure residential facilities, provides parolees with an environment that is halfway between prison and ordinary parole release. The program is rated Promising. Program parolees showed statistically significant reductions in rearrest, reconviction, and reincarceration, compared with the comparison group.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
Halfway Back (HWB) is a highly structured program that serves as an alternative to incarceration for technical parole violators or as a special condition of parole on release from prison in New Jersey. HWB programs are run at nine different secure residential facilities in the State and provide parolees with an environment that is halfway between prison and ordinary parole release. The program is run by the New Jersey State Parole Board (NJSPB) and targets technical parole violators who have failed to meet supervision conditions, relapsed, or demonstrated some other form of poor behavior (excluding new criminal charges). HWB participants spend several months at a residential facility, receiving necessary treatment services, and are released back to their communities to finish the remainder of their sentence under parole supervision once they complete the program.

Program Theory
During the 1980s and 1990s, New Jersey, like many other States, saw a dramatic rise in its State prison population. At the same time, the number of parole revocations that resulted in a return to prison for parolees also greatly increased. This significant growth of admissions to prison, especially the admission of technical parole violators, placed enormous pressure on the State correctional budget. In 2001, the NJSPB responded to this issue by developing a new approach to manage parole violators, especially technical violators, emphasizing the use of intermediate sanctions and evidence-based practices.

Intermediate sanctions provide an alternative for technical parole violators, who have violated the conditions of their parole but have not committed a new felony offense. One response to this population has been to create programs that combine therapeutic elements with confinement. Part of the new approach taken by the NJSPB involved the start of the HWB program for technical parole violators. The program is designed to keep technical parole violators out of incarceration—thereby not contributing to the prison population—while providing appropriate treatment services that will reduce the chances of recidivism or parole violation.

Program Eligibility
Eligibility to participate in the HWB program is determined by parole officers. Parole officers rely on a matrix of graduated sanctions to match the technical parole violator to the appropriate sanction, on the basis of the parolee’s need, resource constraints, and program availability. Parolees are placed in the program if participation in HWB will meet their needs, if the technical violation is proportionate, and if there is availability in the program.

Program Components
The program-review committee, which includes treatment and parole staff, determines the length of stay as well as program conditions—that is, lockdown versus work release—for each participant. HWB participants typically remain in the program for 90–180 days. When parolees first enter the program, they undergo an orientation and assessment process that identifies and determines appropriate services to address their individual needs.

The HWB program generally provides services such as intensive substance abuse programming; relapse prevention; employment preparation, placement, and vocational training; financial management skills; anger management techniques; mental health services; gang deprogramming; and family restoration.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Rearrest
Ostermann (2009) found 59 percent of Halfway Back (HWB) participants were rearrested following release from prison, compared with 79 percent of parolees who maxed out their prison sentences and did not receive any community supervision following release from prison. This difference was statistically significant.

Reconviction
Fifty-nine percent of HWB participants were reconvicted, compared with 61 percent of parolees who maxed out their prison sentences and did not receive any community supervision following release from prison. This difference was statistically significant.

Reincarceration
Seventeen percent of HWB participants were reincarcerated, compared with 46 percent for parolees who maxed out their prison sentences and did not receive any community supervision following release from prison. This difference was statistically significant.

Time to Rearrest
HWB participants showed a statistically significant reduction in average time to rearrest, compared with the comparison group. For HWB participants, time to rearrest was 455.81 days, compared with 315.21 days for parolees who maxed out their prison sentences and did not receive any community supervision following release from prison.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Ostermann (2009) examined the ways in which two community programs in New Jersey affected the recidivism rates of parolees reentering the community. The two programs were Day Reporting Centers (DRCs) and the Halfway Back (HWB) program. Three measurements for recidivism were used: rearrest, reconviction, and reincarceration (except for parole violations). Rearrest was measured if study participants were arrested for a new crime after their release date. Reconviction was counted if participants were found to be guilty of one of their charges. Reincarceration was measured if participants served a custodial term in either prison or jail after their release. Time spent in the community was calculated by finding the difference in days between the study participant’s date of release from prison and the date of data collection (May 15, 2007). This allowed for a 3-year follow-up period. Data was gathered from multiple sources including the New Jersey State Parole Board, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, and the New Jersey State Police. Recidivism was determined by analyzing the study participant’s criminal case history and Interstate Identification Index.

The study sample included all individuals released from New Jersey Department of Corrections in 2004. A total sample of 714 participants made up four groups:
  • Offenders who maxed out their prison sentence and did not receive any community supervision following release from prison (n= 200)
  • Offenders who were paroled but did not participate in any community programs (n= 198)
  • Offenders who were paroled to a DRC on release (n= 135)
  • Offenders who were paroled to a HWB program on release (n= 181)
This CrimeSolutions.gov review focused on the comparison between the offenders who were paroled to an HWB program on release and the offenders who maxed out their prison sentences and did not receive any community supervision following release from prison. Control variables used were age, gender, race, number of previous arrests, and type of crime for which they were incarcerated and then released in 2004. The sample's average age was 35 years old and was 93 percent male, 67 percent African American, 17 percent white, and 16 percent Hispanic. Fifty-three percent of study participants were incarcerated for drug related offenses, 26 percent for property offenses, and 21 percent for violent offenses. No significant differences were found among groups.

The study used Chi-square tests and analysis of variance (ANOVA) analyses for variance to establish differences among the groups in relation to control variables. Sequential logistic regression was used to examine the impact of program membership on recidivism outcomes, including control variables. Further analyses were run by program types. Kaplan–Meier survival analyses were conducted to measure the differences in time to rearrest, with Cox-proportional hazards tests used to predict recidivism with control variables.
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Cost

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A cost analysis by White and colleagues (2010) compared the costs of participating in the Halfway Back (HWB) program with the costs of returning to prison in New Jersey. The comparison group included 392 technical parole violators who returned to prison to 227 HWB program participants. The comparison group spent a total of 73,338 days in State prison as a result of technical parole violations. The number of days incarcerated was multiplied by the cost per day for a State prison stay ($107 per prisoner), totaling $7.85 million. To control for differences in sample size, the cost was standardized as a rate per 100 individuals by dividing the total amount by the number of comparison group members and then multiplying by 100. This resulted in a cost of more than $2 million for every 100 comparison group members. HWB participants spent 23,103 days in the program. This was multiplied by the daily costs of the program ($68 per participant), which totaled about $1.57 million. At the standardized rate, the program costs $692,072 for every 100 HWB participants. By sending technical parole violators to the HWB program instead of returning them to prison, the State of New Jersey generates a potential savings of about $1.31 million for every 100 program participants. This analysis does not take into account marginal costs, and arguably the savings are generated only if the prison beds that are freed up by HWB participants remain unused or prison units are closed as a result.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Ostermann, Michael. 2009. “An Analysis of New Jersey’s Day Reporting Center and Halfway Back Programs: Embracing the Rehabilitative Ideal Through Evidence Based Practices.” Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 48(2):139–53.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

White, Michael D., Jeff Mellow, Kristin Englander, and Marc Ruffinengo. “Halfway Back: An Alternative to Revocation for Technical Parole Violators.” Criminal Justice Policy Review 22(2):140–66.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Noncustodial Employment Programs for Ex-Offenders
This practice involves job training and career development for offenders with a recent criminal record in order to increase employment and reduce recidivism. These programs take place outside of the traditional custodial correctional setting, after offenders are released. The practice is rated No Effects in reducing criminal behavior for participants in noncustodial employment training programs compared with those who did not participate.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types



Adult Reentry Programs
This practice involves correctional programs that focus on the transition of individuals from prison into the community. Reentry programs involve treatment or services that have been initiated while the individual is in custody and a follow-up component after the individual is released. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types



Halfway Houses
This practice comprises community-based correctional programs that use community supervision and intermediate sanctions to improve the likelihood of successful reintegration of returning offenders and promote community safety. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism of offenders who transitioned back into the community through halfway houses.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White

Geography: Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Residential (group home, shelter care, nonsecure), Other Community Setting

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Alcohol and Drug Therapy/Treatment, Aftercare/Reentry, Alternatives to Incarceration, Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Day/Evening Treatment, Diversion, Family Therapy, Gang Prevention/Intervention, Probation/Parole Services, Residential Treatment Center, Vocational/Job Training, Motivational Interviewing

Targeted Population: Serious/Violent Offender, Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Offenders, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center

Program Developer:
David Wolfsgruber
Asst. Director
NJSPB Community Programs Division
P.O. Box 862
Trenton NJ 08625
Phone: 609.777.0181
Email

Program Director:
Lenny Ward
Director
NJSPB Community Programs Division
P.O. Box 862
Trenton NJ 08625
Phone: 609.633.7703
Email

Researcher:
Michael Osterman
Director
Evidence Based Institute, School of Criminal Justice,
123 Washington Street
Newark NJ 07102
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Todd Clear
Dean
School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University
123 Washington Street
Newark NJ 07102
Email