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Incarcerated Veterans. Challenges & Opportunities. Presenters. Lt. Barbara Taylor Inmate Processing Commander Juvenile Assessment Center Director Experience: 23 years with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Education: Bachelor’s Degree Social Science & Public Administration

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Incarcerated veterans

Incarcerated Veterans

Challenges & Opportunities


  • Lt. Barbara Taylor

    • Inmate Processing Commander

    • Juvenile Assessment Center Director

    • Experience:

      • 23 years with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office

    • Education:

      • Bachelor’s Degree

        Social Science & Public Administration

    • Certified Jail Manager

  • Jessica Porter

    • Inmate Programs Coordinator

    • Experience:

      • 5 years with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office

    • Education:

      • Master’s Degree

        Public Administration

History of the veterans housing unit
History of the Veterans Housing Unit

  • The idea was the result of an FBI leadership training class in Quantico, Va.

  • With Sheriff Nocco’s approval, research was conducted into programs at other facilities which could be used as a template.

  • Staff visited Orange County’s detention facility to observe their Veterans Unit and programs.

  • Identification of veterans commenced during inmate classification interviews.

  • Contact was made with community and governmental organizations which serve the veteran population.

Veterans treatment court
Veterans Treatment Court

  • History:

    In 2013, the Florida Legislature approved funding for the purpose of creating a pretrial felony or misdemeanor veterans’ treatment intervention program.

    “The model here is smart justice — making sure that we prioritize treatment over incarceration so that veterans do not fall through the cracks and do not re-offend.” Assistant State Attorney Chris Sprowls

Veterans treatment court1
Veterans Treatment Court

On October 1, 2013, Sixth Circuit Chief Judge Thomas McGrady signed Administrative Order 2013-063 PA/PI-CIR creating the Veterans Treatment Court in Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

“The purpose of the Veterans Treatment Court is to comprehensively address, through collaboration between the court system, treatment providers, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the service-related mental health and substance abuse issues of certain veterans and members of the United States Armed Forces who are charged with criminal offenses. The goal is to reduce recidivism through treatment.”

Veterans treatment court2
Veterans Treatment Court

Eligibility criteria:

  • The defendant is a veteran or service-member.

  • The defendant suffers from a military service-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem.

  • The charges are misdemeanors or some lesser felonies.

  • The defendant has not previously participated in VTC.

  • Other factors include:

    • Facts of the case

    • The input of the victim

    • The defendant’s criminal record

    • The defendant’s relevant service records

Pasco sheriff s office

Pasco Sheriff’s Office

Veterans housing unit


  • Veterans Service Office

    • Military Records

    • Explanation of Benefits

  • Vets Center

    • Individual Sessions for Veterans suffering from Combat or Military Sexual Trauma

    • Bi-weekly Life Skills Classes For All Vets

      • Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior

        • By Charles W. Hoge, MD, Colonel (Ret.) US Army


  • University of South Florida

    • Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    • Accelerated Resolution Therapy

      • Reduction of symptoms by having the patient move his or her eyes from right to left, following the therapist’s waving hand.

      • The patient is asked to imagine a positive way to remember the experience, which replaces the previously traumatic one.

      • Usually one to three sessions

      • No homework outside of sessions

      • No verbalization of the traumatic events


  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families

    • “Housing First” Philosophy

    • After housing is established, a variety of other services are offered which support stability & sobriety

    • SSVF has already secured housing for at least one veteran after his release

  • Developing understanding in agency members through:

    • Crisis Intervention Training

    • Assigning veterans when possible

      • Deputies

      • Mental Health Workers

  • Display of flag and military symbols

    in housing unit


  • Limited time for interventions

    • Transitory population

  • Classification

    • Self-Reporting

    • Space & staff constraints

  • Chronic mental illness

  • Chronic homelessness

    • Combating the mentality

  • Suspicion & cynicism about government

    • Female veteran inmates less receptive to services

  • Complexity of the V.A. system


  • Increase awareness of V.A. funded programs.

    • At-risk population uninformed about local resources.

  • Establish relationships with community partners prior to release.

    • Veterans are more apt to seek out help when released if they make this personal connection while incarcerated.

  • Recognition of military service helps restore dignity and confidence.

Ultimate goal
Ultimate Goal:

Reduce recidivism, create a stronger community for our veterans, and repay the debt we owe to them for their sacrifice and service.