As Andrew Montano’s parole date neared, he had two options: spend another year in prison or finish his sentence at a state-funded halfway house.

Fellow inmates cautioned him against entering Colorado’s community corrections system, saying it was overly punitive and too often a ticket back to prison. But after nearly 13 years behind bars — his entire adult life — Montano’s desire to embrace his long-term partner and start a career overshadowed those warnings.

In September 2019, he was accepted into a halfway house outside Denver, then owned by the private-prison operator CoreCivic. The rules were strict. But Montano, 35, who was sent to prison in 2007 for assault with a deadly weapon, a crime he committed as a juvenile, was determined to stay on track.

Four months later, during a routine meeting, Montano’s case manager asked if he’d ever been to a location without prior approval from the facility, a violation of the rules. He answered truthfully: On three occasions, while waiting to catch a bus for the hourlong commute back to the halfway house, he’d used a gas station bathroom.

He left thinking the exchange didn’t have much significance. His prior write-ups had been for minor infractions: failing to make his bed, having a box of raspberries in his room and forgetting to sign off on mandatory chores. But later that day, he was told he couldn’t leave the facility, even for work or mandatory classes. For more than a week, he waited.

“Without even a hearing from the halfway house, without being able to even talk to anybody about it, the cops just came and picked me up,” said Montano, who was sent back to prison after a parole hearing. He was released directly onto parole nearly a year later, in December 2020.

“They want us to change, they want us to grow, they want us to learn, they want us to have integrity and to be honest and truthful and a member of society, but we don’t have the chance to be able to (do) that.”

CoreCivic declined to make a representative available for an interview and did not respond to questions sent by email. In a written statement, a spokesperson said, “The staff and leadership teams at our residential reentry centers in Colorado strictly adhere to the policies and standards established by” the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. “We see our purpose as making sure those in our care are better prepared to succeed no matter where life may take them next. We’re proud of our longstanding track record of delivering high-quality and meaningful residential reentry programs.”

— Full story via Moe Clark, ProPublica

“Another place to warehouse people”: Colorado’s halfway houses are a revolving door to prison

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