In 2020, GEO Reentry Services opened four reentry programs – called Community Intervention Stations – for individuals on parole to undergo multi-phase evidence-based programming that includes an individualized behavior change plan to address criminogenic risks and needs; access to community resources for employment, education, housing and more; case management and counseling; and classes that encourage them to confront their beliefs and practice pro-social decision-making. Three additional CIS locations were added to offer coverage throughout Idaho. The CIS offices also combine technology-based programing – ideal in a large, rural state such as Idaho – so services could be delivered in-person or virtually using an individual’s cell phone, tablet or computer. This dual format allows GEO Reentry staff to maintain close contact with participants and consistently monitor their progress.
Enhancing Reentry Efforts Through Transitional Housing
For individuals transitioning from incarceration, housing is often a major hurdle. Transitional housing is temporary supportive housing that offers help during a crisis, whether for returning citizens embarking on their next steps in the reentry process, people seeking relief from homelessness, or those in need of refuge due to domestic violence.
Idaho Department of Correction officials requested GEO Reentry develop and oversee these transitional housing services, provide technical support to providers, and serve as a liaison between the department, referred participants, and providers.
Transitional housing is an essential service because it offers individuals a chance to get back on their feet and much-needed time to find permanent housing, obtain a job, reunite with family, and assess next steps in their reentry journey. Transitional housing stays usually last about 30 to 60 days while the Idaho DOC determines next steps in the person’s release conditions and rehabilitation process.
To expand and strengthen its statewide Transitional Housing Provider Network, the Idaho DOC introduced a three-tiered standards system that delineates the levels of service the state’s transitional housing providers can offer returning citizens. The new system was implemented in 2022, and it is consistent with the department’s efforts to ensure that, as the number of individuals supported by the network increases, provider services remain aligned with the goal to improve outcomes for individuals under community supervision.
Positive Results in Transitional Housing
With the support of GEO Reentry, the revised Idaho Transitional Housing Network for reentrants has achieved many milestones. First, the network has been expanded significantly, with more providers being added to the state system. For example, this year HAS Incorporated, which operates five offices in Idaho, added 58 residences to the Transitional Housing network. HAS provides housing and other services for individuals with developmental and mental health issues as well as traumatic brain injuries.
In addition to bringing new providers into the network, GEO Reentry has worked with providers already in the network to add more locations. For example, 208 Properties, Rising Sun, Mountain Top, Felony Friendly, Safe Release and Oxford House all added new locations this year. In some cases, housing for specialty cases, such as housing for sex offenders, was added.
In addition, GEO Reentry and state officials created the Statewide Transitional Housing Committee. This group meets at least twice annually to discuss internal issues within IDOC, such as identifying system barriers, addressing these barriers, making recommendations to IDOC administration on policy changes, working collaboratively with stakeholders and community partners and more. The committee includes representatives from all Probation and Parole offices statewide, every prison and work site, reentry specialists, clinicians, the state administration, and IDOC management.
Six subcommittees were also formed to address specific topics, including registered sex offenders; medically fragile and mental health individuals; Riders; Women and children’s issues; universal application and documentation; and a housing conference for system education. The subcommittees meet monthly to keep the dialogue, planning and actions continuous.
Each year, between 600,000 and 650,000 people are released from state and federal prisons nationwide, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The challenges returning citizens face as they try to piece together their lives outside prison walls are complicated by their inability to secure safe and affordable housing. In Idaho, the public-private partnership between the DOC and GEO Reentry is expanding this network – and improving the available options – through the Transitional Housing Network.