County officials today opened a dormitory-style jail designed to help San Diego-area military veterans who have run afoul of the law successfully re-enter free society.
The goal of the Veterans Moving Forward wing at the Vista Detention Facility is to offer inmates who have served in the armed forces guidance and support toward "easing their transition back into the community and assistance with keeping them out of jail for good, according to a San Diego County Sheriff's Department statement.
The specialized unit can hold up to 32 inmates in a situation somewhat comparable to military barracks. All will have access to such benefits as behavior-modification classes, vocational training, substance-abuse treatment and employment preparation.
"Providing services such as Veterans Moving Forward and Veterans Court is pivotal to their success and to community safety," Sheriff Bill Gore said.
Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins described the program, which is expected to expand to other local detention facilities, as a good example of the county's "focus on building a smart criminal-justice system."
"By linking veterans and others to the in-custody and community programming that addresses their issues and needs, we can help them build more positives futures while protecting the public at the same time," Jenkins said.
The enterprise is a joint project of the Sheriff's Department, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and community providers.
As of this week, a total of 270 military veterans were in custody locally, according to sheriff's officials.—City News Service