'This booklet is a tool for Incarcerated Veterans and their families who may want access to support services that promote a better and new manner of living.' When these programs are used properly, the benefits may help to minimize the outside pressures incarcerated veterans experience when released. This guidebook addresses the process of economics, social acceptance and reestablishment for incarcerated veterans as they return to society' (p. iii). Sections of this document include: using this guide and seeking help; help for veterans; seeking federal benefits; Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs; checklist'using this guide; resource address websites and phone numbers; and County Veterans Service Offices (CVSO).
While designed specifically for veterans returning to the community after incarceration, this manual is a good example for other states developing or revising their own veteran re-entry manuals. Sections cover: VA benefits during incarceration; getting started—Virginia Community Re-entry Initiative, Virginia department of Veterans Services, Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, healthcare, employment, financial assistance, legal assistance, women veterans, and additional services; resources available for emergency assistance, healthcare, Virginia services for veterans, housing (shelter and food), re-entry services, and additional information; a checklist of things to do by the justice-involved veteran; and addresses for Community Services Boards (CSBs) by Health Planning Region (HPR).
This paper is the fourth in the National Institute of Corrections justice-involved veteran compendium project. It illuminates programs in prisons across the country whose goal is to prevent recidivism by justice-involved veterans, and by so doing improve the safety of law enforcement officers, correctional officers, inmates, and the public. It illustrates the design/development, implementation, and sustainment of initiatives taken by corrections officials who have set up specialized housing—in pods, dorms, units, wings, or floors—and programming for military veterans.
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.
"In many respects, veterans in the United States are again receiving the respect and gratitude they deserve for having risked their lives and served their country. Wounded soldiers are welcomed home, and their courage in starting a new and difficult journey in civilian life is rightly applauded. But some veterans with debilitating scars from their time in combat have received a very different reception … Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who have committed heinous crimes present hard cases for our system of justice. The violence that occasionally erupts into murder can easily overcome the special respect that is afforded most veterans. However, looking away and ignoring this issue serves neither veterans nor victims … This report is not a definitive study of all the veterans who have been sentenced to death in the modern era of capital punishment. Rather, it is a wake-up call to the justice system and the public at large: As the death penalty is being questioned in many areas, it should certainly be more closely scrutinized when used against veterans with PTSD and other mental disabilities stemming from their service. Recognizing the difficult challenges many veterans face after their service should warrant a close examination of the punishment of death for those wounded warriors who have committed capital crimes. Moreover, a better understanding of the disabilities some veterans face could lead to a broader conversation about the wide use of the death penalty for others suffering from severe mental illness" (p. 2, 3). This report provides this information. These sections follow an executive summary: introduction; scope of the problem—veterans sentenced to death, prevalence of PTSD and other disorders, and mental illness, PTSD, and the death penalty; areas of concern in capital cases—veterans already executed (some individual profiles), condemned veterans—not executed (a few profiles), and future cases; what can be done; and conclusion.
This program shows how one community addressed the needs of its justice-involved veterans. “Two and a half million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of them, more than once. The VA tells us about 20 percent come home with post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD. So, that comes to about 500,000. For some, returning is harder than they imagined. The suicide rate for the Army is up 15 percent over last year. For the Marines its up 28 percent. A few of our troops return to become something they never thought they could be: criminals, for the first time in their lives. Around Houston, in Harris County, Texas, 400 veterans are locked up every month. We met a judge there who saw them coming before the bench, fresh out of the warzone and he thought a lot of them were worth saving.”
The Community Services Division coordinates technical assistance, specialized training, and other programs related to probation, parole, and other forms of community-based corrections.
The Division also sponsors the development of publications and materials on topics of interest to community corrections practitioners, and it coordinates an interdisciplinary effort to assist jurisdictions in developing a more rational, cost-effective, and coordinated system of criminal justice sanctions and punishments.
Technical assistance related to Community Corrections is provided on issues such as caseload management, victims programs, employee safety, classification and assessment, and intermediate sanctions. The Division also provides specialized training and other programs that focus on: Executive Leadership and Development; Women Offenders; Evidence-Based Offender Interventions; Inmate Transition to Communities; Workforce Development; and Responding to Probation/Parole Violations.
Division Chief: Holly Busby
Are you looking for some ideas on how to identify potential participants for your veteran drug court? This this is a great place to start. “This FAQ presents a compilation of responses received from veterans court programs to the following question: (1) How do you identify defendants who are veterans and potentially eligible for your veterans court program? (2) Is there any systematic process that has been put in place to screen arrestees to identify those who are veterans?” Attachments to this document are: Veterans Court Criteria (Placer County, CA); Memorandum on the Pretrial Diversion of Veterans (Trial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, District Court Department”; Probation Protocol for Enforcement of Veterans’ Pretrial Diversion Program Pursuant to the Valor Act (MA); and Valor Act Form (MA).
The government deploys thousands of valuable corrections employees to serve the country each year. Thus, it is in the best interest of correctional agencies to be proactive in establishing programs that ease the process of deployment and the employees’ return to work.
This 3-hour program, broadcast on May 13, 2009, addresses strategies to help manage the effect of these deployments on an organization by accessing existing programs and resources. Participants will be able to: raise awareness of how military service members’ deployment and subsequent return to work affect your agency; address operational issues unique to the correctional setting; recognize why retaining and recruiting military service members makes good business sense; identify successful strategies and promising practices; and increase awareness of existing resources and programs for your military service employees.
"Transgender (TG) persons are overrepresented in prison settings and in the U.S. veteran population. Health disparities studies of large populations of transgender people involved with the criminal justice system have not been published to date … "This investigation sought to describe characteristics associated with JI in a sample of veterans with TG identification and to determine whether health disparities exist when compared to non-TG veterans with a JI history" (p. 297, 298). Results are presented regarding: characteristics of TG and non-TG veterans; sample characteristics of justice involved (JI) TG and non-TG veterans; characteristics of justice involved TG and justice involved non-TG veterans; and the effects of TG status and VJP [Veteran Justice Programs] involvement on medical and mental health problems. Findings suggest that TG veterans are more like to be involved with the justice system, to have been homeless at one time or another, and/or experienced sexual assault while serving in the military compared to non-TG JI (justice involved) veterans. TG JI veterans also at increased risk for depression, posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), serious mental illness, suicide, hypertension, and obesity. "These data suggest that TG veterans experience a number of health risks compared to non-TG veterans, including an increased likelihood of justice involvement. TG veterans involved with the criminal justice system are a particularly vulnerable group and services designed to address the health care needs of this population, both while incarcerated and when in the community, should take these findings into account in the development of health screenings and treatment plans" (p. 297).