Veteran’s Court is one of the Treatment / Problem-Solving Courts available in the 20th Circuit.
Veteran’s Court was designed to address the unique needs of veterans living with a mental health and/or substance abuse diagnosis. It is an alternative to prosecution on the traditional criminal court docket. By linking veterans with treatment and services in combination with supervision and frequent court appearances, the program aims to improve the quality of the participants’ lives, reduce recidivism, and improve public safety for the community.
The ASAs (Assistant State Attorneys) assigned to Veteran’s Court work as part of a Team, including the Judge, defense attorney, treatment provider, case managers, and probation officers. Once a referral comes in, the ASA reviews each individual case, talks to victims, and reviews criminal history and screening information to determine if a veteran is eligible. If so, the ASA then extends a plea offer.
Once a veteran enters the program, he/she will be monitored by case managers/probation officer and attend court on a regular basis. Prior to each court session, staffing is held and each participant’s progress (or lack thereof) is discussed. In an effort to modify behavior and help veterans continue to become responsible and productive members of the community, the program uses a system of incentives (for good behavior/progress) and sanctions (for negative behavior/lack of progress).
Working in Veteran’s Court is challenging for ASAs in that they have to set aside the traditional prosecutor mindset and adopt a more therapeutic mindset and work as part of a team. In other words, they work more towards therapy/recovery rather than jail or prison. However, despite the challenges, it is rewarding to see how successful participants are able to completely change their lives for the better and become responsible and contributing members of the community.
If you would like more information about Veterans Court or if you know a Veteran in need of services, the following list of resources may be helpful:
- Justice for Vets, www.justiceforvets.org
- Department of Veterans Affairs, www.va.gov
- Administrative Office of the Court, 20th Judicial Circuit, www.ca.cjis20.org
- Coastal Behavioral Healthcare, www.coastalbh.org
- David Lawrence Center, www.davidlawrencecenter.org
- Charlotte Behavioral Healthcare, www.cbhcfl.org
- SalusCare, www.saluscareflorida.org
- Lee County Human and Veterans Services, www.leegov.com/dhs
- Charlotte County Veterans Services, www.charlottecountyfl.gov/services/veteran
- Collier County Veteran Services, www.colliercountyfl.gov/your-government/divisions-s-z/veteran-services
- Home Base Veteran and Family Care, www.homebase.org
- Southwest Florida Military Museum
- Hearts and Homes for Veterans, www.hhveterans.com
- TLS Consulting, LLC, www.tlsfortmyers.com
- United Way, www.unitedwaylee.org
- Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org