PHOENIX - Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office will begin segregating inmates who are military veterans in an effort to help them with specially-designed programs.
According to Sgt . Christopher Hegstrom, approximately 250 veterans from the general jail population will be moved within the next 10 days.
They will continue to be subject to the same rules as the other inmates and will also continue to wear the pink underwear. Veterans convicted of murder and other felonies will be exempt from the new program.
The goal is to help the veterans find jobs, alcohol programs and other mental health-type programs, Hegstrom said .
Arpaio addressed the initiative in a Tuesday letter, writing:
Dear U.S. Military Veteran:
On behalf of the citizens of Maricopa County and of the United States, I am proud to inform you that my office is taking the initiative of instituting the Incarcerated Veteran's Assistance Program.
When you made the choice to serve your country in the Armed Forces, you wrote a blank check to all citizens promising to defend their freedom and way of life unconditionally. This program is our way of letting you know that we have not forgotten that commitment despite whatever circumstances in your life have landed you into the custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
It is my hope that this program will give you the tools and opportunity to address issues that you are facing in your life and will assist you in getting back on your feet and back to the way of life that you served to protect.
Together with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs and Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, this program will allow you to be housed with other incarcerated veterans and will also provide a conduit for you to access jail programs and services such as:
o Mental Health/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment o Substance Abuse Education and Counseling o Housing Assistance o Job Training o Thinking for Change
The Veteran's Administration has reportedly agreed to help with the programs.