New program to help veterans behind bars in Chatham Co. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New program to help veterans behind bars in Chatham Co.

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Chatham County Sheriff's Office is trying to help military veterans behind bars now and once they get out, stay out of jail for good.

Chatham County has set up a living unit pod and program specifically for those who have served in the United States Military. The new program will tap into all programs available to veterans to help rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the community.

The idea is to try and keep these men and women from repeating mistakes and getting caught up in the criminal system.

“A lot of veterans that are in the jail, it's not to help them get out of jail it's to help them to do resolutions and conflicts, learn how to do things when they get out of jail, that they can go and be a productive citizen in this community,” said Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher. “To learn how to do finance, write resumes, learn how to find jobs when they get out of here, do the things that we want them to be the productive citizens in this community. And not come in that back door again.”

The new seven-week program and living unit is designed to give these men a motivation for a change. The program will show these inmates anger management, problem solving skills and other tools to re-enter society.

“The military spends countless resources to beat the civilian out of somebody, and then when you get out they spend minutes sometimes, a miniscule amount of time, turning you back into a civilian, and so for many men and women, they end up coming out and don’t know how to be in the civilian world,” said Chatham County Judge Penny Haas-Freesemann.

“The fact that if they are here, there is something going on, that they need additional assistance, and we want to make that assistance available to them so they don't come back to jail, or even worse make it into the prison system,” said Christina Jackson-Davis, CCSO. “Some of them say they don't know how to connect to the VA, we can be a liaison to do that, some just need some help to changing their thinking, that there are support groups and stakeholders out here that are interested into providing what they need.”

Taking part in the program will not give the inmates a “get out of jail early card” or excuse their criminal record, but rather provide an opportunity to exercise the respect and self-discipline they learned in the military and adapt that to civilian life.

“It's not going to do away with your sentence or charges you have against you, we want you to understand we are here to help you as a vet,” said Sheriff Wilcher.

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