NVF’s Nationwide Prison Outreach

James "Sneaky" White at his desk
James “Sneaky” White

The award-winning San Quentin News, written and published by inmates in San Quentin, published an article about James “Sneaky” White’s release after serving 40 years. On his release, he joined the NVF staff, directing our program for incarcerated Veterans.

 News travels fast. The paper is distributed throughout the California prison system. From inmate to inmate, White’s name traveled as the guy to talk to if you needed help accessing your VA benefits, but especially for preparing a pre-release plan for an upcoming parole hearing. When he started, all the cases came from California prisons. Now, one-third of his cases come from 15 other states. White’s working in 28 prisons nationwide. His current case load ranges between 140 – 150. 

The pre-release process includes an inmate’s pragmatic plan for employment possibilities and housing. Sneaky explains the VA’s housing programs and connects the inmate to a Veteran Services Officer so the benefits he’s eligible for are in place. If he can’t find a local VSO, he contacts the American Legion or the VFW. 

Since 90% of prison inmates have a substance abuse problem, White researches programs like AA and NA to include meeting locations and schedules. Only four cases Sneaky has prepared have not succeeded in parole. His plans are that good. 

When Sneaky contacts a correctional officer on behalf of a Veteran inmate, he includes his own military service, prison time and the NVF’s 35-year history. He explains what we do and what we can’t do for an inmate. He hasn’t had a negative response yet. Most prison personnel want the inmates NOT to come back so they’re helpful.

The NVF has long championed White, citing his service to his country as a decorated chopper pilot in Vietnam, and also his service to Veterans during his incarceration. Wherever he is, “Sneaky” White continues to serve.

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About the Author

Shad Meshad

As a U.S. Army Medical Service Officer in Vietnam in 1970, Shad Meshad began pioneering treatment techniques for what would later become known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is the founder of the National Veterans Foundation and founder and co-author of the VA’s Vet Center Program.


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