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DOC helps veterans transition from prison to public life

By Sascha Cordner

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-993071.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – A new program designed to give inmates who are also military Veterans a second chance is coming to five of the state's correctional facilities. As Sascha Cordner reports, the Veterans Dormitory program helps those inmates have an easier time re-entering society upon release.

Florida has the largest Veteran population in the country, and of that number, about 67-hundred are inmates. That's according to Warden Chuck Halley from the Gulf Correctional Institution. So, he says the Florida Department of Corrections wanted to help honorably discharged military veterans who have three years left on their sentence with the opening of the Veteran's Dormitory program.

"Specialized pre-release services will be offered, we bring people in from the VA, from the military to help him when they are released. They have a support system they can go to. They know how to get their benefits when they leave. The department feels like they served our country with honor and we should try to help them."

So far, the new voluntary dorm program in his facility houses 65 inmates. In addition to Gulf, Veteran's Dormitories have been established at Santa Rosa, Martin, Sumter and Lowell Correctional Institutions.