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Barracks Behind Bars In Veteran-Specific Housing Units, Veterans Help Veterans Help Themselves

The purpose of Veterans Treatment Courts is to offer vets with a substance use problem and/or diagnosis of a mental health issue an opportunity to avail themselves of treatment-oriented justice. Based on anecdotal evidence and an increasing accretion of data from the field-in many of the projects funded by the National Institute of Corrections and the Bureau of Justice Assistance-these courts appear to be achieving their goal. They are helping worthy individuals find a degree of redemption while paying their debt to society. They are restoring family relationships, strengthening communities, cutting rates of recidivism and, hence, making communities safer.

But what of those veterans who are incarcerated, serving a sentence, or awaiting trial or other resolution of the charges against them?

This paper is the second in the National Institute of Corrections justice-involved veteran compendium project. It illuminates programs in jails across the country and how justice involved veterans have been helped by them. It illustrates the design, development, implementation, and sustainment of initiatives taken by enlightened, pragmatic corrections officials who have set up veteran-specific housing-in pods, dorms, units, wings, or floors-and programming for military veterans.

Barracks Behind Bars introduces several of the facilities and the men and women whose vision is paying off with reportedly fewer behavioral problems and incidents of violence by incarcerated veterans. This may contribute to a less stressful, safer environment for correctional personnel and facilitates opportunities for assistance from the Veterans Justice Outreach specialists of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, personnel from state and county departments, and volunteers from community and veterans organizations. This white paper shares the views of jail administrators, judges, and formerly incarcerated veterans-each of whom have stories to tell-in their own words.