Professor of Criminal Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
- For criminals receiving their first prison sentence and parole violators being resentenced to prison, the therapeutic parole program Halfway Back in New Jersey was found to be a less expensive, intermediate-sanction alternative to incarceration.
- The program was found to be associated with long-term crime reduction benefits and reduction in recidivism rates.
In the article, “Halfway Back: An Alternative to Revocation for Technical Parole Violators,” Mellow and his co-authors evaluated the impact of a therapeutic parole program called Halfway Back in New Jersey to assess the program’s impact on recidivism reduction and cost savings. The Halfway Back program exemplifies a renewed emphasis on the development of intermediate sanctions as an alternative to incarceration (both in lieu of a prison sentence and in place of a return sentence for parole violations), which has become an especially popular alternative for prisoners who violate their parole but do not commit a new felony offense. The study examined a random sample of Halfway Back participants (from 2005-2006) and a comparison group of individuals who did not go through the program. The study’s cost analyses demonstrated that placement of technical parole violators in the Halfway Back program represented a less expensive alternative to state prison (approximately $1.3 million dollars in incarceration costs for every 100 technical violators who participate in the program). Though there was no difference in the overall likelihood of arrest, analysis suggested that program participation may be associated with modest, longer term reductions in new recidivism events. This study found that New Jersey’s investment in the Halfway Back program has the potential to produce measurable savings while, at the very least, not increasing risk to community safety. Study findings suggested that there may be longer term crime reduction benefits, though additional research is needed to determine the full extent of this.