The ADR Prof Blog reported on an Op-Ed in the NY Times about veterans court. Details:
All over the country, special “problem-solving” courts deal with specific types of criminal behavior, separate from the regular court system. There are drug courts, sex offense courts, mental health courts, and now, veterans’ courts.
Soldiers who commit certain crimes after returning home with mental health disabilities are treated differently than others who break the same laws and go through traditional courts. Some judges believe a vet’s service to the country merits special legal consideration. Need to Know correspondent Maria Hinojosa went to Texas to find out more.
Effective July 12, 2010, the Hennepin County Veterans Court will operate on a weekly basis, as a separate calendar within the existing Criminal Mental Health Court. Under the guidance of their defense attorney and with the consent of the prosecutor, defendants may apply to participate in the Veterans Court. The targeted population consists of defendants who have served in the United States Armed Forces who are experiencing treatable behavioral and chemical health issues;msuch as PTSD, TBI, anger management/domestic violence and/or substance abuse or chemical dependency. Defendants must be willing to take responsibility for their crimes. Eligible offenses include misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor and felony offenses, except mandatory and presumptive prison commitments. Misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases are also accepted from the suburban courts as well.
Karen Heller: Veterans Court winning cases
By Karen Heller
Today is Veterans Day at the Criminal Justice Center. So is every Wednesday, when it's time for Veterans Court, the Hon. and U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Patrick F. Dugan presiding.
Established in March by state Supreme Court Justices Ronald D. Castille and Seamus P. McCaffery, both decorated veterans, the court is one of three in the state, and almost 20 nationwide, exclusively handling veterans' misdemeanor cases.
It's already a success, a "problem-solving" court, like drug court and mental health court, designed to expedite assistance and avoid costly legal delays and jail time. Defendants range from age 20 (Iraq) to 80 (Korea), but the cases are remarkably sad and similar - virtually all male, charged with driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, possession, spousal abuse.
Excerpt: Experts gathered at the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday to start training for a new intervention program: veterans court. The county's director of veterans' services, Milton Schoen, hopes the new court program stops the downward spiral that trapped many vets after Vietnam.
"I've seen people that 25 years after that war -- 25 jobs, three or four marriages, five or six DWIs -- their life has been like a nightmare and that's what we want to prevent," he explained.
Now, as half a million Minnesota veterans readjust to life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, a special court will open for those veterans charged with a crime.
Veterans Courts have been high profile lately:
Katie Couric and CBS News:
And the PBS News Hour (fka MacNeil/Lehrer)
Excerpt: HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania's first special court for nonviolent criminal defendants who also happen to be military veterans got up and running in Pittsburgh last fall on the Marine Corps' birthday.
Since then, veterans' courts also have begun operating in Scranton and Philadelphia, and next week in Harrisburg a statewide task force will hold its first meeting with the goal of expanding the effort to courthouses across the state.
Excerpt from Navy Times: A loose coalition of activist veterans, private foundations, government health care workers and justice system officials is forming to create or lobby for initiatives aimed at taking war-related trauma into account during the sentencing of veterans who commit nonviolent crimes.
There are no national statistics on the prevalence of crimes committed by troubled war veterans. And no one is arguing for going easy on those who commit violent crimes.