Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer announced in a press release Tuesday that the sheriff’s department will implement a “Veterans Program” at the Jefferson County Jail.
The program will use a team approach to provide military veterans the necessary rehabilitation resources that will reduce recidivism among county Veterans. Sheriff Boyer, a Vietnam Veteran himself, indicated he is excited about the possibility of reducing recidivism among veterans, and of achieving the secondary benefits to the county such as decreased jail and housing costs for repeat offenders.
At the time of admittance, approved veterans will be housed with other veterans in the jail. They will receive support through Veterans Administration (VA) Outreach Programs, which may include identification of benefits for psychiatric care, mental health, substance abuse, housing, sexual abuse, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Community Treatment Inc. (COMTREA) of Jefferson County will provide support and in-house counseling.
Veterans will have a peer support group consisting of other veterans, counselors, mentors, and volunteers who can provide the continued post-release/post-sentence support necessary for successful rehabilitation, according to the news release. All of the resources will be provided at the jail so there is an increased likelihood of participation and overall success.
By using a multidisciplinary team approach, veterans will have access, guidance, support, and oversight from judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, mental health experts, substance abuse professionals and other veterans.
Presiding Circuit Judge Lisa Page has suggested interest and is working towards establishing a “Veterans Court’ to specifically deal with cases involving Veterans. Research has supported that these types of courts are more effective in reducing recidivism than traditional methods, according to the news release. The multidisciplinary team is supported by the Jefferson County Courts, the Missouri Public Defenders Office, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Jefferson County Municipal Courts, COMTREA, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Veterans Administration (VA).
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department provided the following research to support its move to implement its Veterans Program:
Research indicates that many offenses (70 percent) involving veterans were non-violent crimes. On average, these veterans had five prior arrests, and 45 percent had served two or more state prison sentences. Three in five of these veterans have substance dependency problems, almost one in three have serious mental illness, one in five were homeless and 60 percent had a serious medical problem. Psychological trauma was a likely common occurrence in this population: 18 percent have experienced either childhood sexual or physical abuse, 20 percent were in combat, and 36 percent had experienced either of these stressors. At minimum, 90,000 of the nine million unique inmates annually released from U.S. jails are veterans. And, a large majority (82 parcent) are eligible for VA services, having been discharged either under honorable (65 percent) or general with honorable (17 percent) conditions. In sum, these data indicate there are substantial numbers of veterans in jail eligible for VA services, they have high levels of health and mental health service need, and many of them are potentially eligible for referral to, and are good candidates for, drug or mental health court intervention as an alternative to incarceration.