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Judges, law enforcement devise strategy for veterans treatment courts

Special to the Legal News

Published: June 12, 2019

Organizers from the non-profit Center for Court Innovation recently met with judges, court, law enforcement personnel and federal officials to develop a strategic plan for growing and improving veterans treatment courts.

The Supreme Court of Ohio hosted the seminar that centered on vet offenders, who become involved in the criminal justice system and are diverted to the specialty court.

"Sometimes the personal risks of serving our country in uniform extend to the return to civilian life," Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said in a court press release. "When veterans' lives collide with the justice system, we need courts that understand their problems and the paths to getting their lives back on track.

"That is the aim of Ohio's veterans courts."

The Buckeye State is one of five states nationwide chosen by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance to receive technical assistance and a $200,000 grant to implement the Ohio Supreme Court-led strategic plan.

Court officials noted the state's record of success with the operational 24 veterans courts statewide.

"Strategic planning does not sound fun. But it's like putting puzzle pieces together," said Monica Christofferson, a senior program manager for CCI. "It can be really inspiring."

Participants completed conference calls to judges, court coordinators, probation staff, prosecutors, defense attorneys, corrections personnel, veterans' justice outreach specialists and treatment providers. Each group's ideas about improving the system were distilled into plans.

"We kind of know we're doing the right thing, and it will continue to grow because of the association we're starting here at this table," Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Charles Patton said in the press release.

Patton has managed oversight of a specialized veterans docket since 2012.

Implementation of a veterans treatment court is voluntary and to be determined by each jurisdiction.

Work is expected to continue through the month.

CCI describes state efforts to develop standards as going above and beyond for the creation of veterans treatment court.

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