OTHER SOCIAL ISSUES

Characteristics, institutional behaviour, and post-release outcomes of federal Veteran and non-Veteran men offenders

Article

Incarcerated Veterans represent 2.5% of the federal offender population and are a unique subset of the general Canadian Veteran population. This study provides the first in-depth examination of Veteran offenders in federal custody. During the study period, 374 federal offenders self-reported as Veterans. Federal Veteran offenders were older and more likely to have committed a violent offence and to have mental health concerns. Although they were more likely to report mental health concerns, Veteran offenders have more stable institutional behaviour and greater post-release success than non-Veterans. Understanding the unique characteristics and correctional experiences of federal Veteran offenders aids in identifying needs related to intervention and support to promote successful community reintegration after release. Future qualitative research should enhance knowledge of the lived experiences of Veterans involved in the federal criminal justice system in Canada.

Abstract

Introduction: Incarcerated Veterans are a unique subset of the Veteran population. They are more likely to be men, Caucasian, educated, and older than non-Veteran offenders. In addition, Veteran offenders are more likely to have committed violent offences and more likely to have mental health concerns. This study provides a comprehensive examination of the profile, correctional, and post-release experiences of federal men Veteran offenders in Canada. Methods: A retrospective admission cohort of federal offenders assessed with the Correctional Service of Canada’s Computerized Mental Health Intake Screening System between August 2014 and March 2018 was included in this study. Overall, 374 federal men offenders self-reported being Veterans compared with 14,471 non-Veterans. Demographics, sentence and offence information, institutional behaviour (e.g., guilty disciplinary charges, institutional security and behavioural incidents), and post-release outcomes (e.g., suspensions of release, returns to custody) were examined. Results: Compared with non-Veterans, Veteran offenders were more likely to have committed violent offences, particularly sex-related offences. However, they were less likely to have a guilty disciplinary charge, institutional incident, or positive urinalysis sample. Among offenders released, Veteran offenders were more likely than non-Veterans to be on day or full parole. They were also less likely to have a suspension of release or return to custody. Discussion: Veteran offenders are a small sub-group within the federal offender population. Although they are more likely to report mental health concerns, they have more stable institutional behaviour and greater post-release success than non-Veterans.

Full Reference

MacDonald, Shanna Farrell., Cram Sarah., Derkzen, Dena., Pound, Teresa., Mooz, Mike. (2022). Characteristics, institutional behaviour, and post-release outcomes of federal Veteran and non-Veteran men offenders. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health. DOI:10.3138/jmvfh-2021-0103