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Cell Block for Veterans

Special cellblocks for veterans are becoming more common in jails nationwide

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This is no ordinary cellblock.

In this section of Albany County's jail in New York, all the inmates are veterans.

The concept of 'veterans pods' in prisons is becoming more common across the country, with at least 86 similar services nationwide, most launched within the last five years.

Cell Block for Veterans
Soldier On president John Downing talks with Albany County Correctional Facility inmates during a special program aimed at helping veteran inmates reintegrate into society.

The cellblocks feature special programs to assist with problems like substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Albany's jail offers group sessions of "Moral Reconation Therapy," a strategy aimed at reducing the recidivism rate through training in moral reasoning.

Yoga and meditation are offered at some locations, while at several jails in Florida, veteran inmates participate in familiar traditions, like daily flag raisings or monthly formations.

Regardless of the approach, each program has the similar goal of preparing veterans for reintegration into society, and managing mental health issues.

Cell Block for Veterans
Inmates inside Albany County jail's veteran's pod gather for a group "Moral Reconation Therapy" session, a strategy aimed at reducing the recidivism rate through training in moral reasoning.

And the programs seem to be having an impact. According to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, only 6 percent of the jail's 331 veterans have returned to the jail, compared to a typical recidivism rate of over 40 percent.

Cell Block for Veterans
Army veteran Lanthony Colbert talks with other inmates inside the 'veterans pod' at the Albany County Correctional Facility.
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But some inmates say they are grateful simply to be surrounded by people with the shared experience of having served in the military.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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