State Halfway Houses Revolving Door To Prison System
AK

Welcome to A Public Affair on KGNU. I'm your host, Alexis Kenyon. Today, I'm speaking with Moe Clark, a Colorado-based reporter whose most recent story for ProPublica investigates how Colorado's halfway houses are a revolving door to prisons. Mo, thanks so much for talking with us.

MOE

Thanks for having. me.

AK

To start off, tell us about Colorado's halfway house system. What is it? What was the intention when it was created and what drew you to report on it?

MOE

Sure. The system's been around for a long time. It was established in 1974. It used to be under the jurisdiction of the prison system and kind of got pulled out and it's now under the Department of Public Safety. And there's been a huge constriction in the number of facilities over the last couple years. Uh, When I started this project, I think there was 33 and there's 26 now. When they were established, it, one was to reduce prison overcrowding, and also It was seen as more of a, rehabilitation.

And that sounds great on on paper. I think what we found through the investigation was that's, that's not really happening in practice. Maybe in certain programs, in certain facilities, but overall , yeah, kind of was a, a hindrance to people. There was all these added barriers that make it really, really hard to get through the program. Yeah.

AK

So you start your article with the story of a man whose experience is a great example of what you're talking about. So, Andrew was in prison for 12 years and facing what turns out to be a pretty difficult decision for him when the court tells him he can finish up his time served at a halfway house. Tell me about that decision.

MOE

Sure. Andrew's decision is, very common. And a a lot of folks feel like it's, it's too big of a risk, to finish out their sentence at a halfway house. because so many people get sent back. Um, I heard that from every single person that I talked to that ended up in a halfway house from prison. there's a lot of rumors that go around, they hear in prison that the case management isn't good. The rules are arbitrary or too harsh. Like I heard from a lot of people that they're just dirty and prison was nicer and generally, there's sort of this sentiment, if you just wait one more year, it's just easier to go on parole. You can move in with your family. Um, Yeah, I heard that really early on and I was just like, wow. There's a lot, there's a lot to unpack there.

AK

So Andrew ends up going to a halfway house despite warning. What happens

MOE

? So He spent 12 years in prison. Uh, he committed a crime as a juvenile. and he was sentenced as an adult. had like. went through a lot of programs, support groups. He got his electricians, pre certificate before you can get your, one. So like he, he was really, really excited to start a career and he was really excited to see his long term partner wife. Finally be with the person he wanted to be with and start a family and then was nearing his parole date, so applied to the halfway house. he told me . He already had context for electrician jobs. He got an electrician job. They, they said it paid too much and that he would be overwhelmed with how much he would be paid and it wasn't in the right location. And so he got a job in a warehouse.

AK

And okay. So it's en route to the warehouse job, kind of, after putting his dreams on hold, he ends up getting sent back to prison, for what the halfway house called a technical violation. What happened?

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