Special veteran jail-housing program looks to get lives back on track

Posted at 5:19 AM, Oct 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-11 09:46:08-04

A new jail program at one Arizona facility is looking to help veterans turn their lives around.

Within the next week, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb will open a housing unit at his jail specifically for veterans. Twenty-two inmates will qualify for the program.

The pod, or housing unit, is now covered with patriotic paintings and messages.

"These are veterans," said Sheriff Lamb. "They've served this country. Regardless of what mistakes or choices they've made, I think they still earn that respect and honor." 

Through the program, veterans will receive special care to help them get their lives back in order.

Lamb says by housing veterans together, they won't feel so alone.

"A lot of them are struggling with PTSD that was precipitated by their service in the military," said Lamb.

The VA is also set to bring in counselors, according to Pinal County Spokesperson Navideh Forghani. Inmates will get to work with therapy horses and dogs to help them cope with issues like PTSD.

United Way is setting up an assistant to help with employment services for when the veterans get out, said Forghani.

Lamb says he got the idea from Sheriff Peter Koutoujian from Middlesex County, Massachusetts, who started a Housing Unit for Military Veterans (HUMV).

"Anything we can do to help them overcome any issues they're having and hopefully, just like the Middlesex Sheriff's Office -- they have single-digit recidivism rates now with their veterans." 

Recently, Lamb flew out to tour Koutoujian's jails to learn how the program works.

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