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4th Judicial Circuit
Veterans treatment court
Collaborative Effort of the following Agencies:
- Administrative Offices of the Courts
- Public Defender's Office
- State Attorney's Office
- Clerk of the Circuit Court
- Jacksonville Sheriff's Offices
- City of Jacksonville
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Veterans Mentors
Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) is a program designed to address the unique needs of veterans who have had an interaction with the law which resulted in an arrest and are living with service related mental illness and/or substance abuse issues. VTC identifies individuals with qualifying criminal charges who:
1) Are active military or were discharged from military service.
2) Have a documented substance abuse and/or mental health diagnosis, including but not limited to post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and/or substance abuse disorder(s)
3) Those conditions must be attributable to the veteran's military service.
Drawing on existing diversionary court models, VTC utilizes multiple interventions, providing diverse approaches to treatment and rehabilitation. Types of interventions implemented may include:
- Intensive individual
- Group or Residential substance abuse and/or mental health treatment
- Medication and medical compliance
- Drug and Alcohol testing
- Regular court appearances
- Veteran mentor support
- Access to educational and/or vocational opportunities
- Assistance in gaining access to veteran services
- Required regular attendance at 12-step/sober support meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Rational Recovery, etc.)
- Participation in pro-social events intended to provide the skills necessary to maintain a stable life connected to family and the community.
The Making Of VTC
A core concept of the VTC model is the transformative power of military camaraderie when veterans assist other veterans. In response to rising dockets filled with veterans charged with alcohol and/or substance abuse related offenses, courts around the country have recognized that more can be done to ensure veterans are better connected to benefits and treatment earned through military service. The first Veterans Treatment Courts were established to allow jurisdictions to serve a large segment of the justice-involved veteran population through newly created dockets which focus exclusively on veteran-related issues.
The Public Defender's Office of the 4th Judicial Circuit proposed the establishment of a local Veterans Court. With the help of a Federal, State, and local partners, the Fourth Circuit Veterans Treatment Court is a nationally recognized model. Today, there are over 500 similar Veterans Court treatment programs around the country with excellent success in the form of tremendously low recidivism rates.
- Help veterans recover and assimilate into society
- Improve access to veteran organizations and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Improve access to VA benefits and services
- Stabilize participant mental wellness and sobriety
- Achieve stable housing
- Improve family relationships and social connections
- Increase compliance with treatment and other court-ordered conditions
- Advance emotional status
- Increase employment and vocational opportunities
- Maintain public safety
- Recognize participant service to the country
- Reduce criminal recidivism
- VTC provides access to a variety of services, including alcohol, drug, mental health, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
- Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting the participant's due process rights.
- Eligible participants are quickly identified and promptly placed in VTC.
- Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and drug testing.
- VTC utilizes a coordinated strategy to encourage participant's compliance.
- Ongoing judicial interaction with each veteran is essential.
- Close monitoring and evaluation measures how well program goals are achieved.
- Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes efficient VTC planning, implementation, and operation.
- Forging partnerships among VTC, the VA, public agencies, and community-based organizations enhance VTC's effectiveness.
- DD - 214 / VA Medical Care Eligible
- State Attorney's Office Application with Approval
- Judge acceptance
- Interview with VA Clinician
- Connection (NEXUS) between offense and condition acquired in service