WASHINGTON, D.C. – RealEstateRama – After learning that 30-40 District of Columbia at Hope Village, the men’s halfway house in the District of Columbia, may be sent to a halfway house in Baltimore after Hope Village’s contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) expires this week, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sent a letter today to BOP reiterating her request to place these individuals, who do not have homes, in the District. The D.C. government has offered its assistance providing housing in the District for these individuals, including options that would be of no cost to BOP.
“These individuals need to be in D.C. now so that they can renew relationships with their families, friends, appropriate D.C. government agencies, and potential future or even current employers, to help facilitate reentry,” Norton wrote. “We are concerned that we have seen no plans for how or when these residents will return to D.C. when their confinement ends. Even if they are returned to D.C., their absence from the District would make it even more difficult for these individuals to find permanent housing when they are finally released.”
Given the urgency of the matter, Norton requested an immediate response in writing from BOP.
Norton’s letter follows:
April 27, 2020
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street NW
Washington, DC 20534
Dear Director Carvajal:
I understand that, because Hope Village, the men’s halfway house in the District of Columbia, is ending its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the end of this month, BOP is working to transfer 30-40 residents without homes to a halfway house in Baltimore, possibly as early as today. We appreciate that our work with you has resulted in placing most of these men on home confinement in the District. However, as I have written before, housing D.C. residents outside the District is completely unacceptable. Sending these men outside of the District defeats the purposes of halfway house reentry: to accustom these inmates to living outside of an institution; to ensure access to relatives and friends, the only proven way to reduce to recidivism; and to allow inmates to easily be in touch with D.C. organizations and agencies primed to assist with such matters as obtaining a driver’s license.
I further understand that the D.C. government has offered its assistance to work with BOP to provide housing in D.C. for these individuals. The District has indicated that there are housing options in the District available to these men at no cost to BOP. We believe BOP can use its funds to allow CORE DC, which will be monitoring residents placed on home confinement, to also monitor the individuals who do not have a home to return to.
Bear in mind that these inmates are virtually the only local inmates in federal facilities, yet they often have been in BOP facilities for many years, thousands of miles from D.C., with virtually no contact with family or friends.
If there is a concern that providing housing for free would somehow violate the Antideficiency Act, or some other appropriations rules prohibiting gifts, I believe this could easily be solved by classifying these individuals as being on home confinement, just as you have for the approximately 80-90% of Hope Village residents who are going to home confinement already. While alternative placement locations, such as a hotel, may violate current BOP rules concerning where an individual may go for home confinement, these rules can be amended under
emergency rulemaking authority to allow for alternatives in light of the pandemic. Allowing these individuals to stay in the District without violating appropriations laws would align with your existing statutory authorities.
These individuals need to be in D.C. now so that they can renew relationships with their families, friends, appropriate D.C. government agencies, and potential future or even current employers to help facilitate reentry. We are concerned that we have seen no plans for how or when these residents will return to D.C. when their confinement ends. Even if they are returned to D.C., their absence from the District would make it even more difficult for these individuals to find permanent housing when they are finally released. As your staff have explained, these individuals are likely still in halfway house placement now instead of home confinement precisely because they have been unable to confirm housing. The solution above would address these issues.
I ask that you not send these D.C. residents to Baltimore, away from their homes, and, instead work with the District to find a housing solution here in D.C. I further ask that you respond in writing immediately given the timely urgency of this matter.
Eleanor Holmes Norton