Virginia has opened a wing for military veterans at Indian Creek Correctional Center in southern Chesapeake, reports the Virginian-Pilot. About 60 former service members are serving out criminal sentences in a new dorm at the medium-security prison. State corrections officials christened the wing during a ceremony last month, saying they hoped the program would change lives and prevent war vets from returning to prison.
Virginia is the latest in a series of states with large military populations, including Florida and Georgia, that have established veterans-only prison facilities to house and assist the growing numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who find themselves in trouble with the law. The Indian Creek dorm, open since spring, is one of two veterans wings started this year by the Virginia Department of Corrections. The other is in Haynesville. About 2,000 of the state’s 30,000 inmates identify themselves as veterans, though officials suspect the true number is larger. Many of them struggle with drug addiction and mental disorders.