Andrew Montano, a former resident of a Henderson, Colorado, halfway house, kisses his newborn boy in his family’s home. Montano was sent back to prison for a year, delaying plans made with family after already being incarcerated for years, when he received a technical violation for using a gas station restroom before catching the hour-long bus ride back to the house after work without their permission.

“Another Place to Warehouse People”: The State Where Halfway Houses Are a Revolving Door to Prison

Colorado’s halfway houses were intended to reduce recidivism, but insiders describe a system plagued by a lack of training and support, costs that can burden residents with debt and overly harsh rules that have sent many back in prison. I spent time with former residents whose lives had been affected by the community corrections system.

Photographed for ProPublica, alongside reporter Moe Clark.

The halfway house that Andrew lived in when it was owned by CoreCivic. The facility, owned by Adams County, is now operated by Intervention Community Correction Services of Intervention Inc.

Michael Anthony Martinez, formerly a resident at a halfway house in Sterling owned by Advantage Treatment Centers, gets ready for Sunday morning church in his room at the Hope House, a sober living home, on March 13, 2022. Since his release from prison, he has been sent to a halfway house again to complete an addiction treatment program and then transferred back to the Sterling facility that sent him to prison.

John Sherman eats with family on Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022. After three decades in prison, John didn't have a single write-up. Within two days of his release to Denver halfway house, however, that changed. Dozens of family members surprised him while on a clothes shopping trip approved by his halfway house. Due to the excitement of the moment and the store not letting him use their phone, he missed the deadline to report his arrival at the store to the facility by a few minutes and was written up.

A painting by John Sherman depicting a correctional officer as a clown with no brain stepping on flowers hangs on his bedroom wall at his family home in Denver on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. “The halfway house doesn’t care if you leave or succeed,” said Sherman, who completed his program in January 2021. “Somebody’s gonna fill that bed no matter what.”

Alycia Samuelson gets ready for a new job serving at a 1950s-themed diner in her first apartment in years. Alycia, who has struggled with addiction since she was a young girl, was homeless when she got out of prison and began using drugs again. After this, she ended up in a halfway house again.

Alycia has lived with depression for her whole life. She's covered the apartment in affirmations and reminders to help her along. Several months into her stay at the house, she was suicidal after a series of tragedies in her life and told staff. She says they did nothing, so she ran away. "I literally ran from the halfway house to save myself.”

Michael Anthony Martinez, left, and other Hope House residents relax after a game of football at a nearby local park in Sterling, Colorado on Sunday, March 13, 2022. “I’m ready to be (a) successful man and show everybody that I can do something right,” he said. “Because this is just sickening. In and out, in and out.”

Michael Anthony Martinez shows his tattoo that reads, “Family: we may not have it all together, but together we have it all."

Alycia Samuelson receives training for a serving job at a 1950s themed diner. State audits have shown that few halfway houses are meeting quality standards for employment services despite the benefits to the long-term success of residents.

John Sherman sits for a portrait at his family home in Denver on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. A prolific artist, John has murals in most Colorado correctional facilities.

Old paint marks a palette in John's studio. When incarcerated, he dreamed of one day having his own studio and is now building it out at his family home.

Andrew Montano, his wife, and their 10 month old daughter stand for a portrait near their home. Andrew is glad to be back with his family and launching a career after 13 years in prison, four months in a halfway house, and nearly an extra year in prison for his technical violation.

Dusk falls on the halfway house Andrew stayed in, owned by Adams County and run by Intervention Community Correction Services.

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