Justice Department announces changes to halfway house system

Goal is to reduce chances that prisoners will re-offend

The Justice Department says it is overhauling its system of halfway houses, where most federal prisoners spend the final months of their sentences before being released.

Officials say the goal is to reduce chances that prisoners will re-offend and help them return to society.

A memorandum issued Wednesday says the Bureau of Prisons will cover the costs of government-issued identification cards, including Social Security cards and birth certificates, that can help them in getting jobs.

The memo also directs the bureau to expand its oversight and monitoring of halfway house contracts, strengthen programs for female inmates and create a semi-autonomous school district within the prison system.

The halfway house serve more than 30,000 residents a year. The bureau has agreements with 103 contractors to operate 181 facilities across the country.

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