Welcome to ‘The Barracks,’ the new Georgia jail unit just for military veterans
It’s chow time in “The Barracks,” the Gwinnett County jail’s brand new housing unit just for military veterans, and Jack Cleveland has just finished his potato chips.
He crumples up the bag and, arms flush with colorful tattoos, welcomes a reporter to the table he’s sharing with two other incarcerated veterans.
Cleveland, 37, admits that he’s done plenty of wrong in his life. His current stay at the jail is the result of the latest in a lengthy string of arrests; the accrued offenses range from disorderly conduct and drug possession to family violence-battery. He is, as he puts it, in the dregs of his life.
“I just feel like I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m on the outside,” he says.
But Cleveland has done good, too. He was in Marine Corps basic training when the Twin Towers fell. He worked on aircraft and served his country in a time of war. It was the best, most meaningful time of his life.
Like a growing number of similar initiatives across the country, The Barracks is aimed at reminding Cleveland of what all that was like — and giving him a better chance of success when he gets out.
Gwinnett’s program is believed to be the first housing unit targeting veterans that has opened inside a metro Atlanta jail, but it joins the larger trend of finding creative ways to help veterans caught up in the justice system.
According to the National Insitute for Corrections, there are now more than 120 American prisons and jails that have separate cellblocks dedicated to veterans. Many have been added in recent years.
Most are in prisons, where inmates have already been convicted of their crimes. The addition of similar offerings at places like the Gwinnett County jail — where most inmates are still awaiting …read more
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