Floyd County Indiana Superior Court 3 Judge Maria Granger is proposing a specialized court that would defer veterans to veteran-specific treatment programs, rather than having them spend time in prison.
“Much is going to be expected from the veterans that enter the program,” said Granger. “The key for success, if it’s going to achieve the public safety and the recidivism which is the main objective for this, it’s going to be important that these veterans are accountable and responsible.”
Since 2008, veteran-specific treatment courts have become more popular. Around 80 percent of veterans in the justice system identify as mentally ill, according to data from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
Now, these courts are becoming more popular as more U.S. Veterans are coming home, said Chris Deustch, spokesman with the NADCP.
“Anecdotally what court teams are telling us is that veterans-only docket, where there’s a real culture of veterans and veteran mentors that are involved, that participants feel comfortable and are taking to the program a little faster than maybe if they were in a regular drug court or mental health court,” said Deustch.
“Some of the research that is out there suggests that veterans don’t always fare that well in standard treatment settings. That they really need a specialized treatment setting, specific to the issues they may be suffering from as it relates to their service,” he said.
A veteran could have the original charges lessened or dropped after completion of the program, said Granger. But failing to complete the program would leave a veteran subject to the original charges, she said.
The 18-month program would be difficult and shouldn’t be considered a free pass, she said.
The court is still deciding what offenses would be eligible for rehab.
The court must still be approved by the Indiana Judicial Center. Granger hopes to have the court implemented by early next year, she said.