The state of Florida recently implemented an innovative program to assist incarcerated, honorably discharged Veterans in easing their transition back into society and decreasing recidivism rates for Veterans.
The program builds on the Veterans’ familiarity with military discipline: shined shoes, shipshape bunks, orderly formations, and morning and evening flag duty.
To be eligible for the Florida program, Veterans must have less than 3 years left on their sentences and volunteer to participate. Three hundred of Florida’s 6,700 incarcerated veterans live in dorms created especially for the program.
Although the veterans share meals; visitation and telephone access, the remainder of their day is spent conforming to military custom and discipline.
When the Veterans have 6 months remaining on their sentences, each is scheduled for a meeting with representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, where they receive information on benefits and assistance with the application. They also receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and must attend classes to assist them in finding employment.
“It’s re-instilling some of the values I once had that I hope to have again,” James White, told The New York Times; he served from 1974 to 1978 as a Marine gunnery sergeant. He has been in prison since 1996 for robbery.
He explained that the dorm and its rituals “are bringing up these old memories, of being an upstanding citizen.” California and Illinois have also recently begun similar programs.