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Uniform justice

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.

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  • Marianne

    Oh My, this is sooo need, not just for veterans but for many of the people in prison. I worked in a prison as a substance abuse counselor. I often saw veterans and others who had trouble getting to my class–these classes are mandatory and inmates move all at one time. I saw people, especially some of the older ones, who could not get to the right class at the right time. Sometimes it took them a week (5 times) to get to the right class at the right time. If there were problems with hearing or English this compounded the problem. These inmates were in for DUI’s. If they can’t get to their class and appointment on time when everyone moves at the same time in a follow the person in line in front of you (kinda like a grammer school might operate), how will they be able to get to probation appointments without help and extra understanding. I highly support special courts for not only vets but for others who have disabilities!

  • Gloria R. Robinson

    I appreciate this program. I like pilot programs and this could be a significant project for evaluation and replication. I think as a mental health professional that it needs to be studied and replicated as indicated. Jail seems to be so easy even though we know it is not an effective means for positive outcomes. I have worked as a nurse in several VA medical settings and we The USA of America need to provide for our vets. Other concerns verbalized her should be advocated for and initiatives explored. Many of our incarcerated persons may be reclaimed as productive citizens if the model proves effective.

  • Billy W.

    Marty is a good friend of mine and my daughter’s Godfather. He’s a fine man and they’re also leaving out that the VA mis-prescribed his medicine which is the major reason he blacked out when coming back from a BBQ. He deserved this second chance, alot of people do. The hardest part is that military culture doesn’t promote nor train you to ask for help so its hard for these guys to reach out. I’m a vet myself and I’m hopeful that if it proved successful then it can be applied to other aspects of our society. Prison can be counter-productive in many cases. These are not hardcore criminals who murder, rape, or steal but people who are coping with issues we couldn’t begin to understand where prison time will only create further problems for them and society as a whole.

  • Mary

    Here in Connecticut we have a Jail Diversion program that works out of the department of mental health and addiction services to identify people who end up in the courts as a result of many of the same reasons the vets ended up in court in Texas. Participation is voluntary and if the person agrees and participates in treatment they can avoid incarceration for a more appropriate intervention. If they don’t participate, they will be sentenced, but a lot of incarcerations are avoided. I think this would be a better approach, because as noted in the show, PTSD, brain injury, and other mental health problems are more widespread than only the vet community, and can be a result of other circumstances besides the violence of war. Too bad it is taking a war to raise awareness of these issues and realization that prisons were not meant to be, and shouldn’t be mental health treatment facilities.

  • Corlina Canty

    Why not look out for our Vets after all they have looked out for you. There is special treatment everywhere you turn now with the right amount of money you get special treatment. If someone can take the time in look out for the ones who has served their country then it is truly a blessing. We protect in serve everyday in put our life on the line for those who would spit in your face at anytime. Continue to look out for Vets after all they look out for you.