Breaking News
More () »

Offenders transferred from Buffalo Halfway House

Buffalo Halfway House has long been a place to help federal offenders prepare for life outside of prison walls. Federal compliance issues are apparently at the root of the reasons why that is coming to an end.

BUFFALO, NY – Fourteen men and women, some of them toting their belongings in garbage bags, were vacated from Buffalo Halfway House on Glenwood Avenue on Tuesday morning, and loaded on a bus bound for Pittsburgh.

They are federal offenders in the last stretch of their sentences, who had been assigned to this so called Residential Re-Entry Center (RRC) by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

RRCs provide transitional housing and other services to help offenders adjust to their upcoming life outside of prison gates, allowing them to look for work, housing, and rebuild family and community ties.

According to its website, Buffalo Halfway House has contracted with the Justice Department to provide such services for more than 40 years, and according to the Bureau of Prisons website, it was contracted to serve up to 50 inmates at a time, as one of nearly 100 RRCs across the country.

When we first contacted Buffalo Halfway House three weeks ago, amid reports that the Bureau of Prisons was cancelling its contract with the agency, a member of the facility’s Board of Directors indicated it was due to federal budget cuts.

However, two sources tell us that was not the case.

According to the office of Congressman Brian Higgins, the Bureau of Prisons said that the facility was not in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

In an e-mail to WGRZ-TV on Tuesday, the Bureau of Prisons, while declining to answer questions, confirmed it was not renewing its contract “due to Buffalo Halfway House's inability to become PREA complaint.”

It did not specify how Buffalo Halfway House was deficient in its PREA requirements.

No one at the Buffalo Halfway House office would answer our knock at the door to find out more, and when we later called to inquire about the fate of its 19 employees who may be out of jobs, the person answering the phone offered only a terse, "no comment".

In the meantime, we found confirmation on line that the Bureau of Prisons is trying to solicit another agency to operate a RRC in Buffalo, and in its e-mail the Bureau indicated that process is expected to take about 18 months.

The Bureau of Prisons would not say whether those bound for Pittsburgh on Tuesday would be placed in another halfway house there, or returned to a federal lockup.

Before You Leave, Check This Out