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Pinal County Jail Houses Veterans Together, Aims To Reduce Recidivism
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office hopes a new program will reduce the likelihood veterans in their jail will commit new crimes.
Inmates who’ve served in the armed forces now have the option to bunk with fellow vets in a patriotically painted unit at the Pinal County jail. The wing is called the Housing Unit for Military Veterans, the acronym HUMV is a nod to the military vehicle.
“What I’ve seen here is kind of a relief on their faces,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said. “Immediately, they’re amongst people now that they have a common ground with them. They have a brotherhood with them and they can kind of help each other out.”
Lamb based the program on a similar one that’s shown promising results in Massachusetts.
“As a sheriff, my job is to reduce or eliminate crime and in this case we want to reduce recidivism and we want to keep people out of jail,” Lamb said.
Middlesex County established a Housing Unit for Military Veterans in January 2016. The Boston Globe reported the 119 vets that have been through the program have a lower recidivism rate than other inmates.
Vets in the unit will have access to additional counseling and therapy programs with dogs and horses. PCSO is working with Cenpatico and the Arizona and federal Departments of Veterans Affairs. The latter helps verify people's military status.
Lamb said veterans shared experiences can help make it easier to talk about issues such as post traumatic stress disorder.
“They can work through these problems together as a group.”
Lamb said the voluntary program is supported by the existing budget and so far serves about a half dozen inmates.
Maricopa County started housing veterans together in 2013.