“20 in 20” -- Innovation Number 13
King County, WA Jail Initiative for Veterans: Improving outcomes, reducing recidivism, and cutting costs
? King County, Washington partners to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes
for incarcerated veterans through an intervention that moves from booking, to
diversion and discharge, to employment, housing, and stabilization.
? The incarcerated veterans project returns cost savings on average of over
$550,000 annually, ending costly random ricocheting in law enforcement, health
care, and treatment systems.
What is the Innovation and How Does It Work?
Partnership and collaboration are central to achieving cost savings, improved individual and community outcomes, and reduced recidivism in a King County jail initiative targeted to veterans. The King County, Washington initiative for
incarcerated veterans demonstrates how to use the jail setting - where there are challenges to interventions given higher rates of turnover and shorter sentences - to identify and divert veterans onto a path to successful reentry. The project provides less expensive alternatives to jail, has demonstrated success in reducing recidivism, and provides the opportunity for each veteran to stabilize in the community. Jail staff identifies veterans during the booking process, and fliers are also posted in jail units informing veterans of the services available. Project staff research an individual's booking and criminal history and conduct an assessment. The
assessment determines eligibility to be enrolled, identifies barriers that have hindered the veteran's reentry previously, highlights assets and skills, projects steps for effective case management, and maximizes awareness of federal, state, and local programs and benefits for veterans and family members. This initial contact
concentrates primarily on court advocacy (early release or sentence reduction), securing treatment, and identifying employment, housing, and other services needed on release to the community.
Incarcerated veterans who enroll typically are in jail for possession or sale of drugs; DUI/public intoxication; domestic violence; shoplifting; and/or public nuisance. Many have histories of homelessness and have held multiple short-term jobs since leaving the military, or been unemployed. Many have also had multiple failed attempts with drug or alcohol treatment programs. Untreated mental illness and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are common.
Upon release, staff assist the veteran with an array of stabilization and other services, such as emergency financial assistance, mental health/trauma counseling,
employment and skills training assistance, temporary housing, advocacy, and other referral services.
Once stable, the veteran begins work readiness and employment assistance services. When the veteran has secured full-time employment and is ready for independent living, long-term housing is the goal - using any financial assistance to which the veteran is entitled and available housing programs for which the veteran is eligible. Case management at this stage has specific time limits for each veteran to address
barriers and meet specific requirements of the case plan in order to help ensure
success. Who Benefits from the Innovation?
Homeless veterans benefit from jail diversion, access to treatment and health care,
housing and job opportunities, and the resources to address barriers and challenges
to stability in the community.
State and County systems benefit from partnership with resource providers who
can help divert and stabilize potentially recidivating individuals into a positive
trajectory in the community.
Taxpayers benefit from cost savings resulting from reduced length of stay in jail
and decreased recidivism in the corrections system, as well as use of treatment and
service resources that promote recovery in the community and reduce chronic
homelessness. Ending the random ricocheting of veterans between streets and
shelters, jail, treatment, and other systems benefits everyone in the community,
housed and homeless alike.
What Results are being Achieved and Reported?
The King County intervention for incarcerated veterans has:
? Reduced the number of episodes and duration of incarcerations by
? Reduced recidivism of veterans to the jail system
? Increased the number of veterans who become employed and secure
a stable living environment King County data for 2006 show that, over the lifetime of the program (1998 - 2005),
there has been an average annual savings to taxpayers of $550,791. The average
annual recidivism rate in the program is 16.6% versus the general recidivism rate for
King County of 57.7%.
? Total 2006 enrollment in the program = 250
? 100 housing placements
? 35 individuals housed for more than 30 days
? 49 employment placements
? 34 individuals employed for more than 30 days
? 43 PTSD referrals to the VA Medical Center
? 93 discharge upgrades
? Early release days for King County = 5,942
? Early release savings = $546,664
? 2006 recidivism rate = 9.6% The program currently is being replicated in Tacoma and Vancouver, WA.
Who is the Innovator?
King County Corrections works closely with the King County Veterans Program (KCVP)
- within the Department of Community and Human Services, Community Services
Division - the King County Court System and Prosecutors' Office, the Washington
Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Addictions Treatment Center at the
Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Seattle, and a variety of public and private
agencies, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Also in King County, voters passed the Veterans and Human Services Levy in
November 2005 to generate resources for veterans, military personnel and their
families and other individuals and families in need through a variety of housing and
supportive services. The levy allocates approximately $13.3 million per year for six
years to implement human services for veterans, their families, and other low-
income residents of King County. One half of these revenues are targeted for
veterans and their families, and the remaining half is dedicated to other King County
residents in need of human services. The levy remains in effect until 2011.
Half of the revenue raised funds services for veterans, military personnel and their
families, including services specific to veterans' needs such as PTSD treatment. The
balance funds regional health and human services, including housing, homelessness
prevention, mental health and substance abuse services and employment assistance.
A Veterans and Human Services Levy implementation ordinance received approval by
the King County Council on April 10, 2006. The levy ordinance identified three goal
areas for service enhancements and funding allocations: reduce homelessness and
emergency medical costs; reduce criminal justice system involvement; and increase Where Can I Learn More About the Innovation? self-sufficiency by means of employment.
Learn more about the King County initiative by visiting
Learn more about the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs initiatives.
Learn more about Incarcerated Veteran Re-Entry Specialists who operate in the VA
medical system which is organized into 22 geographic networks known as Veterans
Integrated Service Networks, or VISNs. VHA has allocated an Incarcerated Veterans
Re-Entry Specialist to each VISN who is the VA regional point of contact and also
provides outreach and assessment services to incarcerated veterans.
Learn more about VA's Healthcare for Re-Entry Veterans (HCRV) , a program
designed to address the community re- entry needs of incarcerated veterans. HCRV's
goals are to prevent homelessness, reduce the impact of medical, psychiatric, and
substance abuse problems upon community re-adjustment, and decrease the
likelihood of re-incarceration for those leaving prison. HCRV services include:
outreach and pre-release assessments services; referrals and linkages to medical,
psychiatric, and social services, including employment services; and short term case
Learn about VA's state guides for incarcerated veterans to identify services and community contacts.
Learn about the U.S. Department of Labor's programs for veterans.
Learn about resources for homeless veterans at the U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness' veterans resource web page.