LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — One of Georgia’s largest counties has created a special jail unit just for military veterans.
“The Barracks” is aimed at giving veterans behind bars a better chance of success when they’re released, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Gwinnett County’s program joins a broader trend of finding creative ways to help veterans caught up in the justice system.
Through the Incarcerated Veterans Program, veterans can connect with local VA centers to get help applying for the disability benefits for which they are entitled.
It is among more than 120 U.S. prisons and jails that have separate cellblocks dedicated to military veterans, according to the National Institute for Corrections. Most of them have been added in recent years.
Gwinnett County’s program launched in November, and it’s still getting ramped up.
There will soon be extra programs and services to help incarcerated veterans, the newspaper reported.
“I think it shows that my country does care about me,” said inmate Jack Cleveland, who was in Marine Corps basic training when the Twin Towers fell. He worked on aircraft and served his country in a time of war.
“This place is a blessing,” said another inmate, Shane Smith, who served in the Army infantry during Desert Storm.
The Barracks was the brainchild of Chief Deputy Lou Solis, a retired Army Ranger who joined the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office about two years ago.
“While some veterans go on to make less honorable choices later in life, their contributions to our national security are no less valuable,” Solis told the newspaper. “We are committed to helping these veterans get their lives back on track by creating a program to provide them with resources to increase the likelihood they won’t return to jail once they’re released.”