An inside look at the struggles former prisoners face in reentering society
Every year, roughly 650,000 people prepare to reenter society after being released from state and federal prisons. In Halfway House, Liam Martin shines a light on their difficult journeys, taking us behind the scenes at Bridge House, a residential reentry program near Boston, Massachusetts.
Drawing on three years of research, Martin explores the obstacles these former prisoners face in the real world. From drug addiction to poverty, he captures the ups and downs of life after incarceration in vivid, engaging detail. He shows us what, exactly, it is like to live in a halfway house, giving us a rare, up-close view of its role in a dense and often confusing web of organizations governing prisoner reentry.
Martin asks us to rethink the possibilities—and pitfalls—of using halfway houses to manage the worst excesses of mass incarceration. A portrait of life in the long shadow of the carceral state, Halfway House lets us see the struggles of reentry through the eyes of former prisoners.
Liam Martin is a Lecturer at the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington.
Martin empathetically plunges us into the cauldron of America’s carceral mesh of punishment, mandatory treatment, homelessness and interminable abuse at the height of the US overdose epidemic. We meet an inspiringly charismatic Puerto Rican heroin injector, with a history of violent crime and chronic incarceration, who actually manages to recover from chronic injection, drug use, violent crime and re-incarceration against all structural odds by bravely confronting the heartbreakingly painful breakdown of his battered body.
~Philippe Bourgois, author of In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio
Halfway House tells the story of the transition from prison to community, helping us think about reentry and formerly incarcerated people in a different light. Liam Martin successfully identifies and illuminates the many tensions inherent in the halfway house model and offers a compelling and ultimately very human account of the lives of men trying to 'make good.'
~Natasha Frost, co-author of The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America
Martin focuses on the role of the halfway house in a dense and often confusing web of organizations governing prisoner reentry and calls for a rethinking of the possibilities and pitfalls of using halfway houses to manage the worst excesses of mass incarceration.
~Law and Social Inquiry
This highly sophisticated, indeed exemplary, ethnographic study of Bridge House, a halfway house in Boston, is an essential contribution to contemporary and future discussions within both academic and policy-making circles. It is an excellent account of the many dilemmas surrounding reentry organizations and programs that still retain many carceral elements that the target population experienced in prisons and jails.
~C. Powell, formerly, University of Southern Maine, Choice
Across nine chapters, Martin offers a moving ethnographic account of Joe's experience at Bridge House, framed with sharp insights into the social forces bearing down on him within and beyond this public and privately funded organization… Like the concept of carceral care, this book is fundamentally about contradictions.
~Punishment & Society