How Do You Keep Veterans Out of Jail?

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A judge in Buffalo, NY has instituted something that’s the first of its kind—a veterans’ treatment court. From CNN:

“They look to the right or to the left, they’re sitting there with another vet,” [Judge] Russell said, “and it’s a more calming, therapeutic environment. Rather than them being of the belief that ‘people don’t really understand me,’ or ‘they don’t know what it’s like’—well, it’s a room full of folks who do.”

If the veterans adhere to a demanding 1- to 2-year regimen of weekly to monthly court appearances, drug testing, and counseling, they could see their charges dismissed, or at least stay out of jail.

After counting 300 veterans in the local courts last year, the judge tailor-made the treatment court to address not only vets’ crimes but their unique mental health issues.

A substance abuse counselor from the VA is in the court room with a laptop loaded with the defendant’s health records, ready to hook him or her up with available programs and track their progress. As a great side benefit, perhaps this will help accelerate our society’s consideration of treatment, rather than punishment, for others from less “deserving” groups who offend non-violently.

Not bad. What is bad, however, is three hundred returning soldiers revolving through that one court alone; what an epidemic we’re facing as the war on terror continues.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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