A friend of mine left the camp on December 20th and wrote me a letter about his halfway house experience. Joe’s experience is typically the same I hear from other guys so I am sharing it now from his letter.
“My wife and daughters picked me up from Butner on my release date. I stopped at the house to get some clothes and then went on to the halfway house. I figured I would be there 1-2 weeks, because I had a house, car, phone and a job. The probation officer had been to my house and recommended home confinement. It turns out I would be at the halfway house until January 27th.
I believe part of the slowdown was that I was there at Christmas and New Year’s. It was a nice place. The beds were bad. The food was good. The people nice. Black and white was about 50/50. The halfway house is a Catholic-run house called Dismas Charities.
I didn’t have to pay for my ankle bracelet. I did have to pay for 25% of my paycheck for rent to the halfway house. They also required me to put 10% of my check into a savings account. If you had under $100 in the account, they would charge $5 so I put in $100 right away. I still had to put in additional money every pay period. They prorated my paycheck at the end, they want their money.
I had a few weekend passes, the first was 24 hours because it was New Years, I didn’t get to go home at Christmas but Paula and the girls came and brought some lunch. Visitation was from 1-3 Sat/Sun.
I got a 12-hour pass, then another 12-hour pass, then a 24-hour pass. You could go to the library for a 2-hour pass.
If you were able to work, you had to be out looking for work. They required you to bring back signatures from employers, if you could. Many of the employers want you to enter your information online only. People would make a list of 6-8 companies they were going to see. The guys would then see one or two and, if they lived in Greensboro, would go to their house for the rest of the day.
One fellow worked at night at the coliseum, but would pretend to go job hunting and go to his house during the day.
On the Monday after New Year’s Day. I went to the library and it was closed. So, I came back and they asked me why I came back so early. I told them it was closed. Three other residents got in trouble. They had left before me and were still gone. They had to do extra duty.
If you didn’t have a job, you had a job at the house doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, TV rooms, etc. I cleaned the TV room and then I started working for a friend of mine.
I got my driver’s license when I was released from the halfway house. It was strange after almost five years not driving. I was nervous around people, anxious even about going to church.
My probation officer is great. I only have to report to him by filling in a questionnaire over the internet on the federal probation website about my finances, expenses, income. It isn’t bad but it has to be done between first and fifth of month. I can go anywhere in North Carolina Central District, which stretches from Greensboro to Virginia border, to Winston Salem, to Raleigh and to Charlotte, If I go anywhere else I have to call and get approved first.”