Unanimously adopts motion for options to sustain pilot program
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council wants to continue a program that is showing positive results in assisting veterans in the County’s criminal justice system. A motion sponsored by Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn requests County Executive Dow Constantine to continue the County’s support of the King County Incarcerated Veterans Program.
“I am excited to see this program mature to include and help even more of our incarcerated veterans,” said Dunn, who first sponsored legislation calling for the program in 2014. “In seeking to address the specific needs of our military veterans we can better serve those who have served our country.”
Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can face a range of related challenges including homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and substance use disorders which sometimes can lead to incarceration. The Incarcerated Veterans Program at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center (MRJC) is designed to address the underlying causes and unmet needs of veterans and provide services tailored to the unique issues faced by those in the military.
The program is housed in a dedicated veteran unit is inside the MRJC. There is veteran-specific programming targeted to the complex needs of veterans to increase their ability to successfully re-entry society, upon release from custody.
The services include assessment and referral for substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, transitional housing assistance, and job referral and placement services. While still a pilot, the program is already starting to show signs of success
“The program’s model, which calls for a team effort, is the heart behind its success,” said Nancy Garcia, Corrections Program Manager & Inmate Welfare Fund Manager, King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention. “The collaborative efforts by the entire team of staff, community volunteers, local service organizations and inmates themselves have created a strong base that pushes through barriers and setbacks together."
The adopted motion requests that the Executive present a report on the status and provide options for sustainable continuation of the Incarcerated Veterans Program. It also calls for further funding to support the pilot and programming through the remainder of 2016.
“This innovative program works to support change in the lives of incarcerated veterans by providing services tailored to their needs. In my view, this program aligns with the overall mission of the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention and I appreciate Councilmember Dunn’s and Executive Constantine’s support to continue to develop it,” said William Hayes, Director of King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. “Many of my staff who are veterans themselves, also support this program and see it as a chance to give back.”