Friday, September 21, 2012
Ind. Courts - LaPorte county officials discuss veterans court
Matt Fritz reports in the LaPorte Herald Argus on LaPorte County's effort to get its own drug court. Some quotes:
In the Porter County Veterans Court, veterans are first identified during their jail processing. Their information is then sent to the Veterans' Justice Outreach, which checks for their eligibility, then their court case manager does an assessment and makes sure they have a public defender or attorney.
If they accept help from the program, they must sign up with Veterans Affairs and accept the treatment programs it offers, like Alcoholics Anonymous, depending on their crime.
Any treatment they need that's not covered by the VA, such as anger management or a cognitive behavior programs, is then handled by the county,
"It's all about making sure they get the structure back into their lives and show up for work," said problem solving case manager Jackie Algozine.
But [Judge Julia Jent, supervisor of the Porter County Veterans Court] pointed out that the most important part about this program is the support group it offers.
This includes a veteran's mentor, who's experienced combat and knows what the affected veteran is going through.
Judges Thomas Alevizos, Jenniver Koethe and William Boklund attended the meeting and said the county was pursuing a similar court, especially since it's started a new court addressing people with drug issues.
Alevizos said it was a matter now of getting the stake holders together-the VJO, treatment providers, veterans and court representatives, to go through the planning process, getting a flowchart together and determining what treatments are available to vets.
Alevizos said the courts do take a veteran's background into account when they judge him, but this isn't the same as offering the support a special court would provide.
"If you give them a pass without treating the underlying condition," he said, "you're not solving the problem."
Jent pointed out that public safety was number one in her program, so crimes like murder, kidnapping or rape are not covered.
And the Porter County system, unlike the veteran courts in some states, will offer services to some veterans who didn't see combat (like the man who pulled bodies out of the Pentagon) or those who were dishonorably discharged. But this depends on circumstances.
Her program handles both misdemeanors and felonies, but the felonies are largely covered by the department of corrections, while she has to do fundraising for the $85,000 needed for the misdemeanor part of her program.
She noted that it was important to address misdemeanors before they become felons.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 21, 2012 10:06 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts