Pinal County veterans unit for inmates finding success

Posted at 7:06 PM, May 15, 2018

A new program to help military veterans, who have gotten in trouble with the law, is reporting success.

Last November, Pinal County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) rolled out the Housing Unit for Military Veterans (HUMV.)

Qualifying inmates live in the special area of the jail, and they receive extra resources like mentors, councilors and educational opportunities.

Since starting HUMV, PCSO officials say they've had 25 veterans, 18 have been released, and zero have returned.

Veteran Luis Lopez was one of the first to go through the HUMV program.

"You’re among brothers," Lopez said. "You’re among others in a military experience."

Lopez served five years in the United States Marine Corps. When he left the military, he had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life.

"I wasn’t a sergeant anymore," Lopez said. "I wasn’t giving orders. It kind of put me in a depressed state."

Lopez got out of jail in January and said the HUMV program changed his life.

"It's very humbling to have a job and to get back to normal living," Lopez said.

PCSO Sheriff Mark Lamb got the idea from Sheriff Peter Koutoujian in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Joaquin Enriquez says MCSO also has a similar veterans section located in the Towers Jail. The program was started back in 2013.