Hundreds of inmates are moving out of the Hope Village halfway house in Southeast D.C. as the longtime federal correctional facility is shuttering this week amid the coronavirus pandemic and a lawsuit alleging men inside were at risk.
Eighty-five percent of the inmates are being sent to home confinement to finish their sentences — in some cases weeks or months earlier than expected.
“It’s a great relief,” an inmate named Austin said. “It’s awesome. I’m going home. I’m not behind the wall anymore. It’s awesome.”
Contractors who operate Hope Village chose not to renew their deal and are closing the facility Thursday amid a lawsuit and criticism from D.C. leaders about a lack of sanitary supplies inside and after two inmates’ deaths and a series of other medical emergencies this month.
The coronavirus pandemic triggered the federal lawsuit from inmates, who allege they’re in danger because of the dormitory-style living.
Former Hope Village volunteer Taylar Nuevelle said it’s safer to send inmates home.
“The spaces are tiny,” she said. “Where they eat, I honestly think in some of the prisons the dining halls are better than where they eat here.”
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A new contractor will monitor the men during their home confinement, but there is no new replacement for Hope Village.
There are dozens more federal halfway houses across the country, but none in close proximity to D.C., which means for returning citizens from D.C. it will be more difficult to reenter society.
Hope Village did not return requests for comment Monday.