Six Indiana facilities have established American Legion Posts over the last 20 years.The Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is the most recent one. It will serve 32 veterans.
Incarcerated members who belong to the American legion get to work on community projects and with other veterans just like they would if they were out of prison.
Indiana American Legion spokesperson Bruce Drake says the partnership is more than a symbolic gesture. He says the program has a marked effect on rates of recidivism.
‘So what this does for the wardens is they say wait a minute if he becomes a legionnaire while he is here with us, nine times out of ten he is not going to return to the facility,” says Drake. “It is part of his rehabilitation to come back into society.”
More than six percent of adults in Indiana correctional facilities are Veterans.
Wabash Correctional Facility Community service director Michelle Lincoln says if a veteran has committed a crime, it doesn’t mean his service shouldn’t be recognized.
“It gives them a positive, and it gives them a hope that they are not forgotten as vets – you know to be recognized by the state for things,” says Lincoln.
Drake says the biggest challenge has been convincing prison superintendents of the merits of having The American Legion accessible to prisoners.
The Legion in Indiana is working to establish posts in the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary and correctional facilities in Putnamville, and Branchville.