New York’s Suffolk County Gives Veterans a Second Chance
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 180,000 veterans are incarcerated each year nationwide, two-thirds of which have been previously imprisoned. To better reduce recidivism among this population, Suffolk County, NY has launched a new program to assist incarcerated veterans with reentry into society.
The Veterans Re-Entry Program provides resources and services to help veterans confront underlying causes of their contact with the criminal justice system. Nationwide, veterans have higher rates of mental health issues than nonveteran inmates, and the program works to combat these problems. The program places an emphasis on substance abuse recovery, coping with stress disorders, and family re-unification, along with important structural components like coordination with the Veterans Treatment Court and a separate housing unit for veterans. These services combined with proven successful educational and vocational training aim to decrease the recidivism rate significantly.
Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco says he has “made continuous efforts to prioritize cost effective offender rehabilitation policies that address the root cause of crime and recidivism.” Along with the benefit of being cost-effective for the taxpayer, it is also “making strides to ensure that our veterans have the resources they need to live, work, and live freely in the home they worked so hard to protect,” said Suffolk Legislator Bill Lindsay.
Suffolk County is home to the highest veteran population in New York State and serves to set an example for other counties to follow and create tailored programs that aim to reduce recidivism rates.