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Leave No Veteran Behind: The Inquiry into Former Armed Service Personnel in Prison Visits in the United States of America

Sir John Nutting (2010).  London, UK: The Howard League for Penal Reform.

Available online at

In November 2009, the Howard League for Penal Reform, one of England's oldest and leading criminal justice lobby groups, initiated an inquiry into incarcerated British veterans. So far, the inquiry has received written reports, heard oral testimony from key experts and stakeholders, conducted interviews with 29 prisoners in three prisons, visited two prisons (Grendon and Everthorpe) that have pioneered Veterans in Custody Support programs, visited the Military Corrective Training Center at Colchester, visited a veteran's hostel in London, met with key Scottish stakeholders and practitioners, and visited the United States, where inquiry members visited a veterans court in Buffalo, New York, the Jessup Correctional institution in Maryland, the Department of veterans Affairs and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington, DC, and the Crownsville State Veterans Cemetery, which operates a program for incarcerated veterans doing  restoration work.

This slender report describes U.S. statistics on the criminality, sanctioning, and incarceration of American veterans. The report also describes offending-related factors such as homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health. Rates of PTSD are five times higher in the U.S. than in Britain, mainly because the U.S. routinely screens for PTSD as well as for depression, problem drinking, and military sexual trauma. Traumatic brain injury is also more of a concern in the U.S. than in England.

The Howard League for Penal Reform report observes the various points throughout the criminal justice process whereby intervention can occur. Using the Sequential Intercept Model as a framework, the group noted options such as Veterans Justice Outreach, Healthcare for Reentry Veterans, Crisis Intervention Teams, and Veterans Courts. About the latter, this report finds "the court aims to intervene with any reported substance misuse problems, diverting veterans from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need in order to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle. In hopes of achieving this goal, the program provides veterans suffering from substance abuse issues, alcoholism, mental health issues, and emotional disabilities with treatment, academic and vocational training, job skills, and placement services. The program further provides ancillary services to meet the distinctive needs of each individual participant, such as housing, transportation, medical, dental, and other supportive services." The Veterans Court in Buffalo reports a recidivism rate of zero.

Posted Mon, Jun 20 2011 10:38 AM by Tracey Vessels


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