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Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Initiative. Paul J. Hutter Chief Officer, VHA Legislative, Regulatory and Intergovernmental Affairs. VJO Initiative.

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Veterans justice outreach vjo initiative

Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO)Initiative

Paul J. Hutter

Chief Officer, VHA Legislative, Regulatory

and Intergovernmental Affairs

Vjo initiative
VJO Initiative

The VJO initiative is designed to prevent homelessness by connecting eligible justice-involved Veterans with needed mental health, substance abuse, and other VA services, when possible, as an alternative to incarceration or other traditional criminal sanctions.

Defining justice involved veterans
Defining Justice-Involved Veterans

  • A justice-involved Veteran is:

    • A Veteran in contact with local law enforcement who can be appropriately diverted from arrest into mental health or substance abuse treatment;

    • A Veteran in a local jail, either pre-trial or serving a sentence; or,

    • A Veteran involved in adjudication or monitoring by a court

  • Related issues

    • Reentry for Veterans being discharged from State and Federal Prisons

    • Disruptive Behavior Committees to establish individualized strategies for safe management of Veterans who are dangerous to other patients, visitors, or providers


  • Veterans are not more likely to be arrested than other adults

  • The healthy soldier effect should lead to lower numbers

  • America has an obligation provide treatment and rehabilitation for the invisible wounds of the brain, mind, and soul to decrease rates of “criminal” behaviors, arrests, and incarcerations

Estimated arrest rates 2007
Estimated Arrest Rates-2007

2007 adult population

Arrest rates

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Estimated justice involved veteran population 2007
Estimated Justice-Involved Veteran Population-2007

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Incarcerated veterans what are their offenses
Incarcerated Veterans: What are Their Offenses

  • Current Incarceration Offense Category :

    • 35% violent

    • 25% property

    • 26% drug

    • 16% public order

    • 26% probation/parole

  • Definite release date: 70%

  • Age at first arrest: 27

  • Number of previous arrests: 8

Invisible wounds
Invisible Wounds

  • Combat can cause invisible wounds to the brain, mind, and soul

    • Traumatic brain injury

    • Mental health conditions

  • Both types of injuries can lead to

    • Poor judgment

    • Impulsivity

    • Difficulty in matching behavior to the context

  • Behaviors attributable to these injuries

    • Can look like criminal behavior

    • Can be criminal

Recent events

December 2008

Outreach Planning Conference

April 2009


8 State and Federal Judges

Broad VA representation

May 2009

Policy memo

Program development

January 2010

VJO National Training Conference

Regional Training

September 2010 – Buffalo, NY

May 2010 – San Jose, CA

June 2010 – Chicago, IL

August 2010 – Tulsa, OK & Atlanta, GA

Recent Events

Deputy Under Secretary for Operations and Management Memo to Veterans Integrated Service Network DirectorsMay 27, 2009

  • Designation of a Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) Specialist at every VAMC

  • Requirements for VA Medical Center and VISN activity focused on justice-involved Veterans:

    • VA Medical Centers must provide outreach to justice-involved Veterans in the communities they serve

    • In communities where justice programs relevant for Veterans exist, VA will take the initiative in building working relationships to see that eligible justice-involved Veterans get needed care

      • Veterans courts

      • Mental Health courts

      • Drug Courts

      • CITs

Dushom memo cont
DUSHOM Memo Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors(cont.)

  • Requirements for VA Medical Center and VISN activity focused on justice-involved Veterans (cont.)

    • In communities where no such programs exist, VA will reach out to potential justice system partners to connect eligible justice-involved Veterans with VA services

      • Judges

      • Prosecutors

      • Police

      • Jail administrators

    • VA Medical Centers must also ensure that VA Police located at their facilities have received training on Veteran-specific issues

Veterans justice outreach specialists
Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • Each VAMC has designated a VJO specialist

  • Responsible for

    • Outreach, assessment, case management for justice involved Veterans in local courts and jails

    • Liaison with local justice system partners

    • Providing/coordinating training for law enforcement personnel

  • Specialists will

    • Assist in eligibility determination and enrollment

    • Function as members of court treatment teams

    • Refer and link Veterans to appropriate providers

Special courts a growing movement
Special Courts: Veterans Integrated Service Network Directorsa growing movement

  • Veterans courts

    • ~ 31 operational

    • ~ three dozen being planned

  • Mental Health courts

    • > 300 operational

    • Alternatives include

      • MH presence for all courts

      • MH programs for probation

  • Drug courts

    • > 2300 operational

Limits on va authorization
Limits on VA Authorization Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • Title 38 CFR 17.38 does not allow VHA to provide:

    • Hospital and outpatient care for a Veteran who is

      • Either a patient or inmate in an institution of another government agency

      • If that agency has a duty to give that care or services

Partnership with state directors of veterans affairs
Partnership with State Directors of Veterans Affairs Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • State Veterans Affairs provide additional benefits to veterans

  • Help identify areas in each state that would be ripe for Veterans Courts

  • Leverage strong relationships with Veteran advocacy groups

  • Leverage established relationships with law enforcement

  • VHA provides healthcare and treatment

Next steps
Next Steps Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • Continue implementation of the VJO Initiative

  • Maintain close partnership with State Veterans Affairs Departments

  • Continue working with local justice systems to establish solid relationships

  • Work with CIT programs and special courts in each area

  • Work with other stakeholders to establish these programs where they do not currently exist

Points of contact
Points of Contact Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • Paul J. Hutter, Chief Officer, Office of Legislative, Regulatory & Intergovernmental Affairs

    [email protected]

    (202) 461-6518

  • Jim McGuire, VA Program Manager, Healthcare for Reentry Veterans Program

    [email protected]

    (310) 478-3711 ext. 41450

  • Sean Clark, VJO National Coordinator, Office of Mental Health

    [email protected]

    (202) 461-7311

  • Christine Merna, Office of Legislative, Regulatory & Intergovernmental Affairs

    [email protected]

    (202) 281-8876

Questions? Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

Back up slides
BACK-UP SLIDES Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

Veterans in prison
Veterans in Prison Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • Older

  • Less likely to be minorities

  • More likely to have been married

  • More educated

  • More violent offenses

    • State (57.4% vs 46.8%)

    • Federal (19.0% vs 14.1%)

    • More likely to have known victim * (70.9% vs 54.3%)

    • More likely relatives/intimates* (37.1% vs 21.1%)

    • Less likely to use weapon* (29.5% vs 37.8%)

  • Less drug offenses

    • State (15.0% vs 22.1%)

    • Federal (46.3% vs 56.2%)

  • Longer sentences

    • State (mean 147 vs 119 mos)

    • Federal (mean 138 vs 127 mos)

* State prisons

Incarceration in prisons 2004
Incarceration in Prisons-2004 Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

Rate per 100,000 adult males

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Types of discharge 2004
Types of Discharge-2004 Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

State Prisons

Federal Prisons

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Outreach to veterans in prison
Outreach to Veterans in Prison Veterans Integrated Service Network Directors

  • Health Care for Reentry Veterans (HCRV)

    • 29,000 to 56,000 Veterans are discharged from State and Federal prisons each year

      • 39 FTEE HCRV Specialists

      • Are contacting Veterans in 955 of 1319 State and Federal prisons, and have

      • Worked with 19,682 Veterans reentering the community from prison

Va department of labor justice collaboration
VA-Department of Labor Veterans Integrated Service Network DirectorsJustice Collaboration

  • Then: PL 107-95 §2023:

    • “Shall be carried out in at least 6 locations”

    • Veterans: “transitioning from certain institutions (i.e. penal) who are at risk of homelessness”

    • Referral/counseling services: Jobs; Housing; Healthcare; Benefits.

    • Demonstration (2003-2008): Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program (IVTP)

      • 7 Sites – jail and prison-focused

      • Final Report to Congress (May, 2008): One-year positive effects – Healthcare (47%), Employed (57%), Recidivism (35%).

  • Now: PL 110-387 §702:

    • Requires program in at least 12 locations;

    • Extends the program through FY2012.