Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $334,360)
With a growing veteran population that is returning home with numerous mental health issues, the number of veterans incarcerated is expected to increase in the coming years. While specialized courts for veterans have been implemented across the country, veteran-specific housing units for those already serving time in custody have been rarer, but are starting to appear across the nation. However, despite their growth, there are no formal evaluations to support their development and implementation, as well as measure outcomes to determine if they are effective.
The current project would involve strengthening an existing partnership between the Criminal Justice Research Division at SANDAG and the San Diego County Sheriffs Department to conduct a process and impact evaluation of the Veterans Moving Forward (VMF) program. The VMF is a veteran-only housing unit that was opened in November 2013 and currently houses up to 32 inmates who have served in the U.S. military at one time. The four primary goals of this project include documenting how a veteran-only housing unit should be implemented; determining if service delivery and inmate management is facilitated when veterans are housed together; determining if veteran re-entry is more successfully accomplished and cost-effective when veterans are housed together; and documenting the challenges and successes of a researcher-practitioner partnership.
To accomplish this, a quasi-experimental design will be used with propensity score matching to ensure the most equitable comparison group possible. With 150 veteran inmates in both groups, data will be compiled regarding assessed need, service delivery (in jail and in the community), rule violations within custody, and criminal activity for up to 12 months post-release. In addition, surveys/interview will also be administered to program and other facility staff, and inmates/ ex-offenders and cost data will be compiled for the cost-benefit analysis. Content analysis will be used to analyze qualitative information that will serve as a context for other findings and quantitative data will be analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics, including logistic regression.
Final products for this effort will include a comprehensive report, data sets, at least one peer-reviewed academic publication summarizing key project findings, a presentation at an academic conference, short research summary and one-page fact sheet for a practitioner audience, and a jointly authored article describing the challenges and successes of the researcher-practitioner partnership. The dissemination of findings will be facilitated through the communications team at the researcher's parent organization that includes press releases, the use of social media, and media events. ca/ncf