Attorney General Eric Holder and the United States Department of Justice just made a major announcement regarding free government cell phones: The program will be expanded to include parolees serving out their terms in halfway houses.
According to Holder the expanded Lifeline Assistance program “will require all 200-plus halfway houses in the federal system to offer standardized treatment to prisoners with mental health and substance abuse issues.” The new policy goes even further by saying that halfway houses will “have to provide greater assistance to inmates who are pursuing job opportunities, such as permitting cell phones to be used by inmates and providing funds for transportation.”
Let’s clear up one point of potential confusion: In this case, the term “inmate” refers to prisoners serving out their terms in halfway houses, not just those still incarcerated in state, federal, county or local lock-ups.
Although we can already hear the critics carping, FreeGovernmentCellPhones.net fully supports this expansion of the Lifeline Assistance program. As the nation’s leading source of information on the program, we know better than most how much a cell phone means to individuals attempting to reintegrate into the “real” world.
A free government cell phone gives these individuals a way to communicate with potential employers, a means of keeping in touch with friends and family, and a tool that can help them to once again become productive citizens. Without the ability to reconnect with society, the odds of recidivism increase dramatically.
So to the critics who say this program, and especially this expansion of the program, are too expensive, we say consider the ﬁscal and psychological costs to society of wasting the potential within each of these men and women. Free government cell phones are a small cost to pay for the beneﬁts they provide not just to the residents of halfway houses, but to society as a whole.
Here’s what the Department of Justice press release said about the new program:
Once fully implemented, these services will be available to every single one of the approximately 30,000 inmates who are released through halfway houses each year. This will ensure consistency and continuity of care between federal prisons and community-based facilities. And it will enhance the programs that help prisoners overcome their past struggles, get on the right path, and stay out of our criminal justice system.
These important changes and others are codiﬁed in BOP’s published requirements for halfway houses – which will be posted online this week. Over the next 30 days, those who operate halfway houses will have the opportunity to provide feedback on these newly proposed requirements. And I encourage members of the public to visit this site, learn about these tools, and make your voices heard as well – so we can all take an active part in constructing the more effective, more efficient, and more just system that everyone in this country deserves.
According to statistics provided by the Department of Justice “more than 30,000 federal inmates passed through a halfway house.” The American taxpayer will be handsomely rewarded if a free government cell phone helps a percentage of those inmates land jobs, maintain a family support unit, and stay clear of future crimes.
That’s why we support the DOJ plan. And that’s why we hope you support it, too.