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Special State Criminal Courts for Veterans

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I read an interesting story in the National Law Journal (12/22/08, vol. 31, no. 17, p.1) about special state courts just for veterans. It’s free on their website (thank you NLJ!):

Courts for veterans spreading across U.S.: Wave of vets in courts trips alarm,” by Lynne Marek, December 22, 2008:

Excerpt: “State criminal courts devoted to U.S. war veterans are emerging across the country, from New York to Oklahoma to California, as increasing numbers of soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are showing up as defendants with a special set of problems.

State court judges are joining with local prosecutors, public defenders, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials and local lawyer volunteers to create courts with veterans-only case proceedings, because they have seen a common thread of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, head injuries and mental illness underlying the veterans’ crimes.

They’re hoping the special courts — stocked with veteran mentors, Veterans Affairs staff, volunteer attorneys and social workers — can help rehabilitate veterans and avoid convictions that might cost veterans their future military benefits ….” (link to full article)

You can find other stories on the web and in newspaper databases on the same subject. (Now if only this sort of 360 degree approach would be taken with all criminal case defendants, most of whom also have health, education, housing, financial, and family problems that contributed to their present situations.)