Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 44 state and territory attorneys general is urging Congress to further support Veteran Treatment Courts by passing the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019.
In a letter to Senate leaders, the attorneys general wrote to encourage the passage of House Resolution 886 (H.R. 886), the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019. H.R. 886 would establish a Veteran Treatment Court Program in the United States Department of Justice to provide grants and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal courts that implement Veteran Treatment Courts.
Veteran Treatment Courts are diversionary court processes, similar to drug and mental health courts, used for minor, non-violent offenses. These courts pair veterans with mentors to address substance abuse and mental health issues and assist veterans with obtaining United States Veterans Administration benefits that can help them with treatment and employment. There are currently over 450 Veteran Treatment Courts in 40 states and territories.
“Over half of veterans involved with the criminal justice system have substance abuse problems. Sadly, in many cases, veterans are not properly identified, and they become lost in the criminal justice system without the necessary help, medical treatment, and therapy they are entitled to or deserve. This encourages a cycle of recidivism, hopelessness, non-recovery, and sometimes, serious injury or death. Throughout the country, Veterans Treatment Courts have emerged as a vital tool to break this cycle,” reads the letter.
Last year, Congress passed Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018, increasing the number of Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists to serve in the courts through local VA medical centers.
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