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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Courts Rehabilitate Offenders Outside Jail

There are a number of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan that come back from war suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, and a host of behavioral problems. Veterans who have been convicted of a crime in last two years would have normally gone off to jail. However, there are now as many as 40 "veterans' courts", courts like these started two years ago to handle the large number of veterans who have turned to crime because of their mental health problems or substance abuse and were on their way to prison.

In Orange County, Superior Court Judge Wendy Lindley, is working to help veterans get the help they need and keep them out of prison. CNN reported that, "The veterans courts are part of local trial court systems, and they usually deal with lesser offenses in which the veteran has pleaded guilty and is also dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction, alcoholism or mental-health issues. About 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a 2008 Rand Corporation study". Not all veterans are eligible for the Veterans' court; the courts only accept Veterans who had a clean record before the war.

The more people we can keep out of jail and channel into drug treatment programs the better, jail or prison is not an effective form of rehabilitation when it comes to mental disorders or substance abuse. Veterans are especially better off in treatment and probation than they would be behind bars. "Are we safer as a community if we simply process these human beings through the system and send them off to prison and have them come back out to our community, because they will come back, to our community?" Lindley added. "And if we have them come back there and their PTSD has not been treated, what's the likelihood that they are going to have another violent act in our community?"

Today we honor all Veterans.

Source:
CNN

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