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December 27, 2012

New wing in Virginia prison just for veterans

The intersection for veterans' issues and criminal justices systems is finally starting to get more of the attention it has long needed, and this local story concerning a Virginia prison reports on a recent innovation in this arena concerning corrections programming.  The piece is headlined "Chesapeake prison opens wing for military veterans, and here are excerpts:

The white tile floors, cinder-block walls and rows of steel bunks remind Raymond Riddick of the barracks he stayed in during boot camp in the mid-1980s. "Only, the beds weren't bolted to the floor," the former sailor said while giving a tour of his dormitory at Indian Creek Correctional Center in southern Chesapeake.

Riddick, who's locked up following a string of car thefts, is one of about 60 former service members serving out criminal sentences in a new veterans dorm at the medium-security prison. State corrections officials christened the wing during a ceremony last month, saying they hoped the program would change lives and prevent war vets from returning to prison.

Virginia is the latest in a series of states with large military populations, including Florida and Georgia, that have established veterans-only prison facilities to house and assist the growing numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who find themselves in trouble with the law.

The Indian Creek dorm, open since spring, is one of two veterans wings started this year by the Virginia Department of Corrections. The other is in Haynesville. About 2,000 of the state's 30,000 inmates identify themselves as veterans, though officials suspect the true number is larger. Many of them struggle with drug addiction and mental disorders. "This dorm allows our veteran offenders a place where they can share ideas and have that camaraderie and that fellowship that comes with their shared experiences," said Jerry Mullen, a clinical supervisor who oversees the veterans program at Indian Creek. "We've developed a curriculum specifically to address post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and other common issues faced by veterans."...

The voluntary program is open to veterans who have been honorably discharged, have shown good behavior and have fewer than two years left to serve.

Beyond the military-themed murals painted on the walls and the neatly made beds, signs that this isn't a typical prison facility can be heard in the nighttime screams of former soldiers struggling with PTSD, and seen in the bullet scars hidden underneath light-blue uniforms.

Counselors who are also former service members help the inmates work through mental health problems and encourage them to take responsibility for their crimes.

December 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

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Comments

We are just now beginning a new emphasis in securing special services for the Vets at our facility. I intend to update this blog with developments in 2013 (unless the last prognastication of the Maya srikes).

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 28, 2012 10:13:25 AM

Veteran status should become an aggravating factor, except in the upside down, Twilight Zone world of the lawyer.

These are trained killers, given benefits, prestige, and considerations not given others. How on earth does the state's culpability contribute to the career of a serial car thief?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 29, 2012 12:52:01 AM

Good for you! Sounds amazing and have tons of fun!

Posted by: gw2 gold | Feb 16, 2013 7:12:19 PM

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