UK Delegation Visits MD Prison Programs
09/10/2010
WJZ-TV

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JESSUP, Md. (WJZ) ―  A member of the UK Parliament crossed the pond to learn about some Maryland prison programs, specifically how to best treat incarcerated veterans.

Andrea Fujii explains how Maryland's goal of treating post-traumatic stress disorder helps hundreds of imprisoned vets.

Afghanistan war veteran William Pruitt has spent more than six years in prison.

"I got locked up a year and a half after coming home," he said.

Once a week he goes to a veterans group organized by the Veterans Administration and the Maryland Department of Correction.

"There's guys in the group that have similar issues that I'm dealing with that I can talk to," Pruitt said.

Programs like this have sparked interest from an UK delegation where 10 percent of their prisoners are veterans.

"Our view is that we in the UK could be doing far more than we are for ex-vets," said Elfyn Llwyd.

Besides group therapy, some work at veteran state cemeteries. Experts say many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and need special help.

"We have to give them the dignity of providing them treatment, but also holding them accountable for what they've done," said Dr. James Holwager, Department of Correction.

UK leaders recognize this and hope to implement similar programs.

"It seems to me that this set up is also very good in terms of trying to accommodate the special needs that many veterans have, because heaven knows they've seen things that you and I can't even imagine," said Llwyd.

Maryland has a recidivism rate of 50 percent. That means half of all inmates, including veterans, are back in prison within three years.

Pruitt has more than a year left behind bars and hopes this group taught him the skills not to come back.

The UK delegation also visited a Washington, D.C. and Buffalo, N.Y. prisons with similar programs.