Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn announced a new housing area in the downtown Monroe County Jail specifically designated for incarcerated military veterans.
Laura Stradley, Executive Director of the Veterans Outreach Center says it’s important to focus on these defendants because they once put their lives on the line for our country.
"They spend possibly years away from home, time away from family and situations in circumstances that many Americans can’t even fathom."
The idea behind the unit is to create specialized, targeted programming for vets; covering areas like substance abuse counseling, workforce development and benefits and housing assistance.
The pod, as some called it, allows veterans to live with other veterans who have been through similar experiences. Stradley says this is key to recovery.
“Some of the military experiences along the lines of war trauma and things like that, when you have that person who’s experienced that same type of trauma, its adds to the healing process"
The veteran unit currently houses around 25 vets who moved in last week, bearing flags and branch plaques on its walls.
Veteran Court Judge John DeMarco says nationwide, jails are creating veteran units to aid in rehabilitation.
"The more peer support, the more programs that are afforded to the veteran defendants while they're in jail; it gives them significant momentum, they're not flat footed when they're released from jail. Pieces are already in place, they already made the adjustment to the programs and its ultimately reflected in the lowering of the recidivism."
The veterans unit is currently an all-male area of the jail. Since men and women in jail are not housed together, women veterans cannot live with the other veterans in the unit, but will be allowed to participate in all programming.
Deputies who are veterans or currently serving will be assigned to the unit.