Following what is quickly becoming a nation-wide trend in the U.S., the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Virginia, recently opened a veterans-only dorm to house prisoners who are former soldiers. In dedicating the new wing, state correctional officials announced that they hoped that the veterans-only facility will help veterans complete their sentences and avoid prison in future. Along with Virginia, other U.S. states including Florida and Georgia have also opened up veterans-only prison facilities to address the rising problem of returning military veterans who get in trouble with the law.
In a 2010 study released by the Institute of Medicine, criminal justice involvement was identified as being one of the most significant problems faced by veterans returning from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some recent estimates place the number of returned veterans in U.S. prisons as being as high as 200,000, with more than half of those veterans incarcerated for violent offenses. Since veteran status is not always reported at the time of conviction, this number may actually be an underestimate.
To read more, check out my new piece on the Huffington Post.