Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office launches new program to help veteran inmates at county jail

Veterans housing program at Sarasota County jail

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A new program for veterans behind bars launched at Sarasota County jail on Wednesday.

“We got several pods at the jail already and this is just another example some folks we can give specific treatment to,” said Colonel Kurt Hoffman.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office pod program has expanded. The Veterans Housing Initiative was created last month, and 10 veteran inmates are now enrolled in the program.

“These programs over there are designed to reduce recidivism,” he said.

This designated program is located within the reentry pod in the jail. This is a program that began early this year to help inmates with job search, and parenting classes.

“They just give the inmates what they need to succeed in life and after it’s up to the inmates to take it and work with it,” Lieutenant Arlene Tracy told ABC 7 back in January.

For veteran inmates, they get to work with the Sarasota County Veteran Services among other groups. Just this week, county staff talked to inmates on how to receive access to the GI bill, disability options, veteran IDs and other services. Also, by grouping them together, they can provide specific counseling services.

“They’re pretty much folks who have gone through Iraq, and Afghanistan, the most recent overseas wars that we’ve been involved in, so we have post traumatic stress disorder and other issues that they need specifically to be addressed,” said Hoffman.

Inmates also have the opportunity to decorate their living space with flags and hand-painted artwork that represents the five branches of military. An initiative deputies hope can get these vets back on their feet.

“If we can make them successful on the outside, it’ll be a win-win for everybody. It keeps the jail population down helps people who helped us serving our country,” he said.

This program is voluntary and inmates must meet specific criteria to qualify. It’s expected to grow as the program becomes popular.

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