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Veteran ward reopens for El Paso County jail inmates, new mental health program

About 20 inmates get special accommodations from general population
Posted at 6:30 PM, Nov 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-08 21:26:09-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The El Paso County Jail reopened its veteran ward, which houses about 20 inmates. It is reopening with a new mental health program and some special accommodations according to the sheriff's office.

However, not every veteran is eligible to be in the ward.

Inmates have to meet Veterans Trauma Court qualifications, like having an honorable military discharge, said El Paso County Sheriff Joseph Roybal.

"To be recognized that we're actually trying and wanting to be better is huge," said one inmate Andrew French.

"We can still see that type of honor, that type of respect that we still have for each other, we may bump heads sometimes in here still, but it's not as much as we would be on the other sides of jail," said one inmate Michael Ashabanner.

The ward helped veterans succeed after getting out of jail from the time it opened in 2015. It closed in 2020 because of COVID-19. The sheriff said the goal now is to help more veteran inmates turn their lives around.

"We are better suited to address mental health issues and issues such as recidivism, committing additional crimes, and homelessness," said Roybal.

For some inmates, the ward means they can be better supported by people with similar backgrounds.

"Just being around other people, like-minded people [who] want the same thing in life and they can help us through all of our problems and just be here for each other," said one inmate Cody Rasmussen.

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