PCSO opens new veterans unit

PCSO is launching a new veterans unit at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Adult Detention Facility. The program is called HUMV (Housing Unit for Military Veterans). Any individual who is booked into the jail will get his or her veteran’s status verified through Veterans Affairs. If a veteran, he or she can opt to join the new veterans unit. This unit will consist of veterans from different branches of the military. These inmates will have access to mentors, counselors and educational opportunities to help them once they are released. The mentorship program continues once veterans are released to ensure they get the services they need.

PCSO’s program is modeled after the HUMV program created by Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office launched its program in January 2016, and it is open to both pretrial and sentenced inmates, who have served at home or abroad. The program is situated in a unit reminiscent of military barracks, and features programming specific to the needs of military veterans. The results have been extremely positive, dramatically reducing recidivism rates of veterans. Since its inception, 165 individuals have gone through the unit. Among the 111 men who spent a minimum of 30 days in HUMV, the reconviction rate is in the single digits.

“I saw this program featured on the news, and I immediately wanted to have it implemented in our facility. Veterans have sacrificed a lot for our country and while they have made some mistakes, they do deserve to get the help they need,” said Sheriff Mark Lamb. “If I can make sure our veterans get that help (and) they do not come back to my jail, then that is a good thing for our county and our country.”

Sheriff Koutoujian called HUMV an effort to help veterans in custody “use their common bonds to address the issues that led to their involvement with the justice system and return them to a better path.”

He added, “I’m honored Sheriff Lamb would choose our program to model his initiative after, and look forward to continuing to collaborate on our shared efforts to help those who have served our country.”

PCSO’s HUMV program is partnering with Cenpatico, the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help create programs.

“The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services is happy to partner with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for the opportunity to reach veterans at a critical moment and provide them professional benefits counseling in an effort to reduce recidivism among veterans,” said John Scott, ADVS Assistant Deputy Director.

We are also partnering with Battle Buddies, a program that uses therapy dogs to help veterans suffering from PTSD. Volunteers will also bring therapy horses down to the facility as an additional option available to our veterans. For more information visit PCSO’s Facebook Page.