A Georgia sheriff has opened what is believed to be the first jail dedicated to just military combat veterans. It will house 16 inmates reports The Guardian.
John Darr, the sheriff of Muscogee County in Columbus, Georgia, has created the new facility in an attempt to break the cycle of recidivism by providing them with specialist services to help them deal with the problems they carry with them when they decamp.
“It’s really unique. What we’re bringing together is a lot of resources,” Darr told the local Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
The idea of the jail is considered an extension of the “Veterans Courts” which have become a trend to help with a growing number of military veterans charged with misdemeanor crimes.
The concept at the Veterans Courts and at the new Veterans Jail is to hook the veterans up with services and benefits they’re entitled to whether its counseling or housing help. The Guardian:
Up-to-date figures on the number of imprisoned veterans are hard to come by, but the problem is known to be extensive. A report from 2004 calculated there were about 140,000 veterans in US federal and state prisons but that might be a small fraction of the total as many more are held at county jail level.
As sheriff Darr told Fox News: “If [veterans] are not dealing with issues they may have, where are they going to go? They’re going to go to local county jails.”
The dedicated Veterans Jail has been open about a month in Columbus, GA which is close to Fort Benning, a large military base.
But Georgia is not the first to act on the idea. Last November, the Florida Department of Corrections set aside separate wings for military veterans at five of its prisons.
The Florida DOC veteran dorms have several features not available in the other prison dorms, including daily flag raising and retiring ceremonies, staff with military backgrounds and the requirement of military standards for clothing, bunks and dorm areas reports ABC News.
The use of profanity is prohibited in these areas and the inmates are encouraged to attend evening group meetings. They are also required to maintain good behavior and be disciplinary report-free.
Inmates must be verified veterans and within three years of their prison release dates, and must volunteer to live in the Veterans’ dorms.