A unique aspect of the Veterans Court is its willingness to help veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Veterans are identified through a specialized screening of their prior criminal history, military service record and a psychological evaluation. If the treatment team determines that a defendant is eligible for treatment, a recommendation will be made to the judge. If a defendant wishes to participate, they must plead guilty and the judge will defer the sentencing until treatment is completed.
What is The Procedure for Participating in Veterans Court?
Eligible veterans voluntarily agree to participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan that a team of court staff, veteran health care professionals from the Northport VA, veteran peer mentors and alcohol and drug health care professionals develop. If the defendant successfully completes treatment, the charges will be reduced or dismissed depending on the agreement between the District Attorney's Office, the Defense Attorney and the Judge. If the defendant fails to complete the program by his own wishes or is asked to leave for non-compliance then the court will impose the jail sentence that was agreed upon.
How Does The Court Ensure Compliance?
At regular status hearings, treatment plans and other conditions are periodically reviewed for appropriateness, incentives are offered to reward adherence to court conditions and sanctions for non-adherence are administered.
What is The Mentorship Program?
One particularly unique and vital component of the Veterans Court is the mentorship program. Fellow veterans work closely with the court to help the veterans with readjustment to civilian life. Most importantly, mentors assist the veteran participant in a way that only veterans can. The foundation of the mentoring program is the belief that behind every successful person there is someone somewhere who cared about their growth and development. This person was their mentor.
What Opportunities Will The Program Provide to Participants?<
• Live a drug and crime free life
• Rebuild ties with family and the community
• Obtain a GED/Continue with education
• Develop job skills or learn a trade
• Have assistance in locating appropriate housing and transportation
• Feel a sense of purpose and well being