Incarceration as an adult male is the most powerful predictor of homelessness. While Veterans are less likely to be incarcerated than non-Veterans, understanding the intersection between Veterans and incarceration and working to provide access to services to prevent and end criminal justice involvement are important for both VA and community partners.
Help for Veterans who are incarcerated
Within Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Justice Programs consist of two programs that serve Veterans interacting with the criminal justice system across the spectrum from contact with law enforcement to release from prison, jail, and other correctional facilities.
Our Mission: To identify justice-involved Veterans and contact them through outreach, in order to facilitate access to VA services at the earliest possible point. Veterans Justice Programs accomplish this by building and maintaining partnerships between VA and key elements of the criminal justice system.
Our Vision: Every justice-involved Veteran will have access to the care, services and other benefits to help him or her maximize their potential for success and stability in the community, including by avoiding homelessness and ending their involvement in the justice system.
Veterans Justice Programs Fact Sheet
Veterans Treatment Court Inventory Fact Sheet
Bureau of Justice Statistics 2011-2012 report
Opoid Use Disorder Among Justice-Involved Veterans Fact Sheet
Introduction to the Veterans Justice Programs
Individualized Placement and Support Supported Employment for Justice-involved Homeless and Unemployed Veterans. LePage JP, Martin WB, Crawford AM, Rock A, Parish Johnson JA, Washington EL. Med Care. 2021 Apr 1;59(Suppl 2):S195-S198. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001445
Veteran treatment courts: A promising solution. Yerramsetti AP, Simons DD, Coonan L, Stolar A. Behav Sci Law. 2017 Sep;35(5-6):512-522. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2308. Epub 2017 Sep 14.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Justice programs and the sequential intercept model: case examples in national dissemination of intervention for justice-involved veterans. Blue-Howells JH, Clark SC, van den Berk-Clark C, McGuire JF. Psychol Serv. 2013 Feb;10(1):48-53. doi: 10.1037/a0029652. Epub 2012 Aug 27. Review.
- Clark, S. C., McGuire, J., & Blue-Howells, J. (2010). Development of veterans treatment courts: Local and legislative initiatives. Drug Court Review, 7, 171-208.
- McGuire, J., Rosenheck, R. A., & Kasprow, W. J. (2003). Health status, service use, and costs among veterans receiving outreach services in jail or community settings. Psych Serv, 54(2), 201-207.
Overview of Veterans Served by Veterans Justice Programs
A scoping review of military veterans involved in the criminal justice system and their health and healthcare Andrea K. Finlay, Mandy D. Owens, Emmeline Taylor, Amia Nash, Nicole Capdarest-Arest, Joel Rosenthal, Jessica Blue-Howells, Sean Clark, Christine Timko Health Justice. 2019 Dec; 7: 6. Published online 2019 Apr 8. doi: 10.1186/s40352-019-0086-9
Associations between posttraumatic stress and legal charges among substance using veterans. Bennett DC, Morris DH, Sexton MB, Bonar EE, Chermack ST. Law Hum Behav. 2018 Apr;42(2):135-144. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000268. Epub 2017 Oct 26.
Finlay, A. K., Harris, A. H., Rosenthal, J., Blue-Howells, J., Clark, S., McGuire, J., Timko, C., Frayne, S. M., Smelson, D., Oliva, E., Binswanger, I. (2016). Receipt of Pharmacotherapy for Opioid Use Disorder by Justice-Involved U.S. Veterans Health Administration Patients. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 160:222-226. (doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.01.013) [Epub 2016 Jan 24 - ahead of print]
US Veterans' Court Programs: An Inventory and Analysis of National Survey Data. Johnson RS, Stolar AG, McGuire JF, Clark S, Coonan LA, Hausknecht P, Graham DP. Community Ment Health J. 2016 Feb;52(2):180-6. doi: 10.1007/s10597-015-9972-3. Epub 2016 Jan 21
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Justice Outreach program: connecting justice-involved veterans with mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Finlay, A. K., Smelson, D., Sawh, L., McGuire, J., Rosenthal, J., Blue-Howells, J., . . . Harris, A. H. S. (2016). Criminal Justice Policy Review, 27(2), 203-222. doi: 10.1177/0887403414562601
Use of Veterans Health Administration mental health and substance use disorder treatment after exiting prison: the Health Care for Reentry Veterans program. Finlay, A. K., Stimmel, M., Blue-Howells, J., Rosenthal, J., McGuire, J., Binswanger, I., . . . Timko, C. (2015). Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. doi: 10.1007/s10488-015-0708-z
Examining the bidirectional association between veteran homelessness and incarceration within the context of permanent supportive housing. Cusack M, Montgomery AE. Psychol Serv. 2017 May;14(2):250-256. doi: 10.1037/ser0000110.
Incarceration histories of homeless veterans and progression through a national supported housing program. Tejani N, Rosenheck R, Tsai J, Kasprow W, McGuire JF. Community Ment Health J. 2014 Jul;50(5):514-9. doi: 10.1007/s10597-013-9611-9. Epub 2013 Jun 1.
Homelessness in a national sample of incarcerated veterans in state and federal prisons. Tsai J, Rosenheck RA, Kasprow WJ, McGuire JF. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2014 May;41(3):360-7. doi: 10.1007/s10488-013-0483-7
Closing a front door to homelessness among veterans. McGuire, J. (2007). The Journal of Primary Prevention, 28(3), 389-400. doi: 10.1007/s10935-007-0091-y
Associations between justice involvement and PTSD and depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempt among post-9/11 Veterans. Holliday R, Hoffmire CA, Martin WB, Hoff RA, Monteith LL. Psychol Trauma. 2021 Jul 29. doi: 10.1037/tra0001038
Mental health and substance use patterns associated with lifetime suicide attempt, incarceration, and homelessness: A latent class analysis of a nationally representative sample of U.S. Veterans. Edwards ER, Barnes S, Govindarajulu U, Geraci J, Tsai J. Psychol Serv. 2020 Aug 27. doi: 10.1037/ser0000488
Blending Traditional Vocational Services and Individualized Placement and Support for Formerly Incarcerated Veterans. LePage JP, Crawford AM, Cipher DJ, Anderson K, Rock A, Johnson JAP, Washington EL, Ottomanelli L. Psychiatr Serv. 2020 Aug 1;71(8):816-823. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201900421
Associations Between Parole, Probation, Arrest, and Self-reported Suicide Attempts. Bryson WC, Piel J, Thielke S. Community Ment Health J. 2020 Aug 29. doi: 10.1007/s10597-020-00704-6.
Treating Opioid Use Disorder and Related Infectious Diseases in the Criminal Justice System. Winetsky D, Fox A, Nijhawan A, Rich JD. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2020 Sep;34(3):585-603. doi: 10.1016/j.idc.2020.06.012.
Special Needs of and Promising Solutions for Incarcerated Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. Pajak A. J Correct Health Care. 2020 Jul 27:1078345820938032. doi: 10.1177/1078345820938032.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Justice Involvement Among Military Veterans: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Taylor EN, Timko C, Nash A, Owens MD, Harris AHS, Finlay AK. J Trauma Stress. 2020 Jun 9. doi: 10.1002/jts.22526
Veterans Justice Programs: Assessing Population Risks for Suicide Deaths and Attempts. Palframan KM, Blue-Howells J, Clark SC, McCarthy JF. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2020 Mar 9. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12631. [Epub ahead of print]
Advancing occupational justice through street-based intervention: A case study examining strategies for increasing meaningful engagement in the face of homelessness and incarceration. Kannenberg K, Conley M. Work. 2020 Jan 27. doi: 10.3233/WOR-203082. [Epub ahead of print]
Interventions for incarcerated adults with opioid use disorder in the United States: A systematic review with a focus on social determinants of health. Sugarman OK, Bachhuber MA, Wennerstrom A, Bruno T, Springgate BF. PLoS One. 2020 Jan 21;15(1):e0227968. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227968. eCollection 2020.
Coordinating across correctional, community, and VA systems: applying the Collaborative Chronic Care Model to post-incarceration healthcare and reentry support for veterans with mental health and substance use disorders. Kim B, Bolton RE, Hyde J, Fincke BG, Drainoni ML, Petrakis BA, Simmons MM, McInnes DK. Health Justice. 2019 Dec 12;7(1):18. doi: 10.1186/s40352-019-0099-4.
Coming home from prison: Adapting military resilience training to enhance successful community reintegration for justice-involved Iraq-Afghanistan veterans.Sreenivasan S, Rosenthal J, Smee DE, Wilson K, McGuire J. Psychol Serv. 2018 May;15(2):163-171. doi: 10.1037/ser0000206.
Many Shades of Green: Assessing Awareness of Differences in Mental Health Care Needs Among Subpopulations of Military Veterans. Ahlin EM, Douds AS. Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2018 Aug;62(10):3168-3184. doi: 10.1177/0306624X17723626. Epub 2017 Aug 3.
Veterans in prison and jail, 2011-12. Bronson, J., Carson, A., Noonan, M., & Berzofsky, M. (2015). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Risk factors for homelessness among US veterans. Tsai J, Rosenheck RA. Epidemiol Rev. 2015;37:177-95. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxu004. Epub 2015 Jan 16. Review.
Special needs offenders in correctional institutions Rosenthal, J., & McGuire, J. (2013). Incarcerated veterans. In L. Gideon (Ed.),. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
Risk of incarceration and clinical characteristics of incarcerated veterans by race/ethnicity. Tsai J, Rosenheck RA, Kasprow WJ, McGuire JF. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;48(11):1777-86. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0677-z. Epub 2013
Risk of incarceration and other characteristics of Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans in state and federal prisons. Tsai, J., Rosenheck, R. A., Kasprow, W. J., & McGuire, J. F. (2013). Psychiatric Services, 64(1), 36-43. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200188
Veterans in state and federal prison, 2004. Noonan, M. E., & Mumola, C. J. (2007). Retrieved from the Bureau of Justice Statistics website: http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vsfp04.pdf (10/23/2013).
The association between recent incarceration and inpatient resource use and death rates: evaluation of a US veteran sample. LePage, J. P., Bradshaw, L. D., Cipher, D. J., Crawford, A. M., & Parish-Johnson, J. A. (2016). Public Health. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2016.01.009
Risk of death for veterans on release from prison. Wortzel HS, Blatchford P, Conner L, Adler LE, Binswanger IA. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2012;40(3):348-54.
Release from prison--a high risk of death for former inmates. Binswanger IA, Stern MF, Deyo RA, Heagerty PJ, Cheadle A, Elmore JG, Koepsell TD. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jan 11;356(2):157-65. Erratum in: N Engl J Med. 2007 Feb 1;356(5):536.
Six-Month Emergency Department Use among Older Adults Following Jail Incarceration. Humphreys J, Ahalt C, Stijacic-Cenzer I, Widera E, Williams B. J Urban Health. 2018 Aug;95(4):523-533. doi: 10.1007/s11524-017-0208-4.
Coming home: health status and homelessness risk of older pre-release prisoners.Williams, B. A., McGuire, J., Lindsay, R. G., Baillargeon, J., Cenzer, I. S., Lee, S. J., & Kushel, M. (2010). Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(10), 1038-1044. doi: 10.1007/s11606-010-1416-8
The Availability and Utility of Services to Address Risk Factors for Recidivism among Justice-Involved Veterans. Blonigen DM, Rodriguez AL, Manfredi L, Britt J, Nevedal A, Finlay AK, Rosenthal J, Smelson D, Timko C. Crim Justice Policy Rev. 2017 Oct;28(8):790-813. doi: 10.1177/0887403416628601. Epub 2016 Feb 10.
Extended-Release Naltrexone to Prevent Opioid Relapse in Criminal Justice Offenders. Lee JD, Friedmann PD, Kinlock TW, Nunes EV, Boney TY, Hoskinson RA Jr, Wilson D, McDonald R, Rotrosen J, Gourevitch MN, Gordon M, Fishman M, Chen DT, Bonnie RJ, Cornish JW, Murphy SM, O'Brien CP. N Engl J Med. 2016 Mar 31;374(13):1232-42. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1505409.
Risk of recidivism among justice-involved Veterans: A systematic review of the literature. Blonigen, D. M., Bui, L., Elbogen, E., Blodgett, J. C., Maisel, N. C., Midboe, A. M., . . . Timko, C. (2014). Criminal Justice Policy Review, 1-26. doi: 10.1177/0887403414562602
Treatments for recidivism risk among justice-involved veterans. Timko, C., Midboe, A. M., Maisel, N. C., Blodgett, J. C., Asch, S. M., J, R., & Blonigen, D. M. (2014). J Offender Rehabil, 53, 650-640. doi: 10.1080/10509674.2014.956964
Trauma among justice-involved veterans. Hartwell, S. W., James, A., Chen, J., Pinals, D. A., Marin, M. C., & Smelson, D. (2014). Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(6), 425-432. doi: 10.1037/a0037725
Criminal justice involvement, trauma, and negative affect in Iraq and Afghanistan war era veterans. Elbogen, E. B., Johnson, S. C., Newton, V. M., Straits-Troster, K., Vasterling, J. J., Wagner, H. R., & Beckham, J. C. (2012). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(6), 1097-1102.
Veterans Treatment Courts
Engaging Vulnerable Populations in Drug Treatment Court: Six Month Outcomes from a Co-occurring Disorder Wraparound Intervention. Shaffer PM, Rodriguez CP, Gaba A, Byrne T, Casey SC, Harter J, Smelson D. (2021). Int J Law Psychiatry. Apr 14;76:101700. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2021.101700
Diversion of Veterans with criminal justice involvement to treatment courts: Participant characteristics and outcomes. Tsai, J., Flatley, B., Kasprow, W. J., Clark, S., & Finlay, A. (2017). Psychiatric Services, 68(4), 375-383. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201600233
Veterans Treatment Court Inventory Update. Flatley, B., Clark, S., Blue-Howells, J., & Rosenthal, J. (2016). Unpublished raw data. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Justice Programs. Philadelphia, PA.
Waging war on recidivism among justice-involved veterans: An impact evaluation of a large urban Veterans Treatment Court. Hartley, R. D., & Baldwin, J. M. (2016). Criminal Justice Policy Review, 1-27. doi: 10.1177/0887403416650490
A specialized treatment court for veterans with trauma exposure: Implications for the field. Knudsen, K. J., & Wingenfeld, S. (2016). Community Mental Health Journal, 52, 127-135. doi: 10.1007/s10597-015-9845-9
Sex differences in mental health and substance use disorders and treatment entry among justice-involved veterans in the Veterans Health Administration. Finlay, A. K., Binswanger, I. A., Smelson, D., Sawh, L., McGuire, J., Rosenthal, J., . . . Frayne, S. (2015). Med Care, 53(Suppl 1), S105-S111. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000271
Female veterans in jail diversion programs: Differences from and similarities to their male peers. Stainbrook, K., Hartwell, S., & James, A. (2015). Psychiatric Services, advanced online publication. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201400442
Structured Evidence Reviews
Justice-involved veterans and employment: a systematic review of barriers and promising strategies and interventions. McDonough, D. E., Blodgett, J. C., Midboe, A. M., & Blonigen, D. M. (2015). Menlo Park, CA: Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
A review of the literature regarding treatment of justice-involved Veterans. Blodgett, J. C., Fuh, I. L., Maisel, N. C., & Midboe, A. M. (2013). Menlo Park, CA: Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Justice Programs, Department of Veterans Affairs.
2018: Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018: became Public Law No: 115-240 (09/17/2018): This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to hire at least 50 Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists under the Veterans Justice Outreach Program. Each of these specialists must serve as part of a justice team in a veteran’s treatment court or other veteran-focused court.
2001: Established by Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001, 38 U.S.C., PL 107-95
For more information on Veteran Justice Programs contact Mr. Sean Clark at Sean.Clark2@va.gov
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