Using the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, this report presents data on the military and criminal backgrounds of incarcerated veterans, uses new measures to describe their substance abuse and dependence histories, and provides a detailed measure of their mental health problems. It compares incarceration rates for veterans and nonveterans in the U.S. population and describes trends from 1986 to 2004 in the prevalence of military service among inmates. The report also examines characteristics of incarcerated veterans who served in the 1990-91 Gulf War and the Afghanistan/Iraq operations since 2001.
- The percentage of veterans among State and Federal prisoners has steadily declined over the past three decades, according to national surveys of prison inmates conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- In 2004,10% of State prisoners reported prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces, down from 12% in 1997 and 20% in 1986.
- The majority of veterans in State (54%) and Federal (64%) prison served during a wartime period, but a much lower percentage reported seeing combat duty (20% of State prisoners, 26% of Federal).