• Scholarly report

Veterans in prisons and jails, 2011-2012

„„ The number of veterans incarcerated in state and federal prison and local jail decreased from 203,000 in 2004 to 181,500 in 2011–12.
„„ The total incarceration rate in 2011–12 for veterans (855 per 100,000 veterans in the United States) was lower than the rate for nonveterans (968 per 100,000 U.S. residents).
„„ Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic inmates made up a significantly smaller proportion of incarcerated veterans (38% in prison and 44% in jail), compared to incarcerated non-Hispanic black and Hispanic nonveterans (63% in prison and 59% in jail).
„„ A greater percentage of veterans (64%) than nonveterans (48%) were sentenced for violent offenses.
„„ An estimated 43% of veterans and 55% of nonveterans in prison had four or more prior arrests.
„„ More than three-quarters (77%) of incarcerated veterans received military discharges that were honorable or under honorable conditions.
„„ An estimated two-thirds of veterans in prison (67%) and jail (66%) were discharged from military service between 1974 and 2000.
„„ From 2001 to 2012, veterans discharged during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn accounted for 13% of veterans in prison and 25% of veterans in jail.
„„ Nearly half of veterans prison (48%) and jail (44%) served less than 3 years in the military.
„„ A quarter of veterans in prison (25%) and less than a third of veterans in jail (31%) reported that they had been in combat while in the military.
„„ About half of all veterans in prison (48%) and jail (55%) had been told by a mental health professional they had a mental disorder.
„„ Incarcerated veterans who saw combat (60% in prison and 67% in jail) were more likely than noncombat veterans (44% in prison and 49% in jail) to have been told they had a mental disorder.


Bronson, J., Elizabeth, C., Noonan, M., & Berzofsky, M. (2015). Veterans in prisons and jails, 2011-2012. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.