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Nov 27, 2011 11:00 PM by Matt Stafford

Local group concerned about arrest rates for older vets

A local group studying arrest records in El Paso County saw that military arrests - veteran and active duty - make up 13 to 14 percent of the total population at the Criminal Justice Center on average. The numbers that they're seeing with the older vets are shocking them.

"Eight veterans and one active duty arrested," says Charles Corry, going through daily inmate booking logs. Corry runs the Equal Justice Foundation in Colorado Springs.

For Corry's foundation and other groups looking into military arrest numbers; it's become easier to check in El Paso County.

"We really didn't have any accurate numbers of how many people in El Paso County that were either veterans or active military that were being arrested and coming into the court system," says Sheilagh McAteer, Deputy Public Defender for Colorado.

That was until a federal SAMASA grant helped set up the Veteran Trauma Court in the 4th Judicial District. They started working with the Sheriff's office; tracking the inmates differently as they come in. Before then, people being booked into the C.J.C. were just asked if they were active duty military or not.

"They now ask a question when you're booked into the jail, whether you are active military or a veteran," says McAteer, who helped push for the change.

Now the months of numbers create a bigger picture for Corry and others. He analyzed the first 1,000 arrests - between July 2010 and November 2010 - and started picking up on a trend with the older veterans.

"I noticed that I was getting one bunch of 50 and older; a much older population than you see in the normal civilian jail population," explains Corry.

Looking at the age distribution for the C.J.C. in 2010; 20 and 30 year-olds make up a larger percentage of the total population. However Corry looked into each age, and how many of them were veterans.

"From age 50 it goes on up; within a few hundred arrests we were seeing that effect," says Corry; pointing out that they are much higher percentages that in the younger populations.

Corry wants to get those numbers out, and point people who can help in the right direction. He continues getting daily reports, and the more numbers he gets the wider perspective he has. Right now he's seeing that a large percentage of the crimes committed involve substance abuse and domestic violence.

Right now Corry is waiting to see 2011's complete numbers; he wants to look for trends with re-arrests.

"Track whether they go from a DUI, to domestic violence, to a felony," says Corry, talking about trying to stop them before they get to the point of committing the more serious crimes. However Corry says that will take two to three more years of data gathering to give a large enough sample.

For now, he'll keep plugging in the day-to-day.

For more on the Equal Justice Foundation, click here. For more detail on their numbers, click here.

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