This is the "Final Summary" of the findings and methodology of a process and impact evaluation of the San Diego County (California) Sheriff's Department's Veterans Moving Forward (VMF) program, which is a veteran-only custodial housing unit for male inmates who have served in the U.S. Military.
The VMF program was developed under a partnership between the Sheriff's Office and the San Diego Veterans Administration (VA) in 2013. Although numerous specialized courts for veterans had been established across the country at that time, veteran-specific housing units for veterans sentenced to custody were more rare. No evaluations of such housing units had been previously conducted. A core goal of the VMF is to create an environment for veterans that will enable them to experience the positive aspects of their shared military culture, create a safe place for healing and rehabilitation, and foster positive peer interactions. VMF components included correctional staff with military backgrounds and an emphasis on a less restrictive and more welcoming environment. The focus was on rehabilitative progress, and mandatory rehabilitative programming that focuses on criminogenic and other underlying inmate risks and needs. Using comparative data for treatment and control groups, the impact evaluation found that the nurturing environment of the VMF, coupled with participation in cognitive-based therapy (CBT) programming apparently made a positive difference. Although the feedback from clients and outcome results showed the positive effect of the VMF program, the evaluation identified a few areas that could be strengthened in partnership with the Veterans Administration and connections with other community service providers, including meeting basic needs, housing, and employment. Only about three in five clients were linked to outside services. Barriers to community services should be identified and addressed.
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: March 1, 2019