In a barracks-style room in Billerica, MA, 25 veterans wake up everyday and divide into squads for PT and cleaning routines. They are not on an army base or in a VFW hall, but in a county jail.
This is HUMV, the Housing Unit for Military Veterans (the inmates came up with the name) at the Middlesex County Jail. It is one of a very small but growing number of jail units dedicated solely to veterans that have arisen across the country in recent years, and it’s being used as a model for new ones.
The unit is designed to replicate aspects of the military that will make them feel supported—the walls are covered in murals of Iwo Jima, flags, insignia of the various military divisions. It’s also built around daily, targeted rehabilitative opportunities—inmates attend rigorous programming from parenting classes to PTSD counseling.
VICE News goes inside HUMV to see military life behind bars, and visits a professor and Vietnam vet who thinks these prison programs are getting one crucial thing wrong.
Check out VICE News for more:
Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network: