Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $950,000)
Lauderdale County, Alabama is a designated qualified opportunity zone (since December 14, 2018) and primarily rural jurisdiction (49.3% rural) with a total population of 95,878 and 16.2% reported living at or below the poverty level, according to 2020 census data. Lauderdale County is the northwest corner of Alabama along the Tennessee River and shares approximately eighty (80) miles of border with Tennessee. Available booking data at the joint county-municipal jail (without VRSS/SQUARES) showed an average of four (4) to five (5) justice-involved veterans per month for our jurisdiction (which projects to 192 to 240 justice-involved veterans for this enhancement grant period, FY2024-2028). Lauderdale County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC), established by the Lauderdale County Community Correction and Punishment Authority in 2018, began a pilot program in 2019 with five (5) participants, then after implementation grant funding (FY2021-2023) served approximately twelve (12) veterans per year, totaling thirty (30) VTC participants to date (April 2023), who were all high-risk/high need veterans. This VTC's implementation period to date calculates a recidivism rate of only 15%. African American participants in this VTC represented 20% of VTC participants served, when the African American population for Lauderdale County, Alabama is 9.9% resulting in this VTC serving an underserved population at over twice the rate of that population in this community. Additionally, there are two (2) female participants. VTC capacity needs to be enhanced to continue to reach and serve underserved populations, especially more female veterans, and provide more adequate level(s) of treatment and services for up sixty (60) veterans, at a proposed rate of fifteen (15) veterans each year for four (4) years grant period (FY2024-2028) identified as high risk/high need justice-involved veterans in the rural jurisdiction of Lauderdale County, Alabama, based on available booking data. Further, data published by the National Drug Court Resource Center shows Alabama’s opioid prescription dispensing rate at 97.5 per 100 persons in 2018, or the highest in the nation, and this VTC seeks to enhance available services as part of this State’s opioid crisis response. The Lauderdale County Veterans Treatment Court applies for priority consideration for this Enhancement Application under Section B(2) of the solicitation as a VTC who partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs, utilizes a VJO as a key team member, and desires to enhance implementation of VRSS/SQUARES access for early identification and referral of justice involved veterans.