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A new kind of problem-solving court

Caryn Tamber//February 18, 2010

A new kind of problem-solving court

By Caryn Tamber

//February 18, 2010

From Slate comes this fascinating item: A handful of jurisdictions throughout the country are trying a new tack in dealing with returning veterans who get into legal trouble. The jurisdictions are starting specialized veterans courts, modeled in some ways on drug courts and other problem-solving courts. Veterans often come back from war with some big problems, like post-traumatic stress disorder, that lead them into crime. The idea is to divert them from jail, to get them treatment, and to ensure that they don’t commit more crimes. Dahlia Lithwick writes:

One hundred twenty veterans are enrolled in the Buffalo program, and 90 percent of graduates have successfully completed the program. The recidivism rate is zero. Since the Buffalo experiment launched, 22 other cities and counties have created their own veterans courts along similar lines, and the Senate is looking at legislation introduced by John Kerry and Lisa Murkowski to fund more veterans’ courts for nonviolent offenders.

Lithwick raises some questions about veterans courts and ends up concluding that jail isn’t the appropriate place for criminals with drug and mental-health problems, regardless of whether they’re veterans. She also links to this excellent article from Westword in Denver on veterans courts. It puts a human face on the veteran crime wave and is definitely worth a read.

Should we consider veterans courts in Maryland? Is there enough veteran-related crime here for it to matter?


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