Veterans post unique problems for the criminal justice system. They have unique needs, the type that could be best served by specialty courts — like mental health courts, or drug courts — but, there are few veterans’ courts in the state and many think this needs to change.
The Oregonian published a lengthy story this week discussing the unique needs of veterans, particularly those who are incarcerated. For some, war showed them traumatic and disturbing things, things they would never want to see again and scenes that continue to haunt them.
Many, affected by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) need continuous therapy and treatment to cope with life back in the U.S., life devoid of battle.
Veterans may return to changed lives—new children, family changes, and unemployment. Many find their marriage has fallen apart. And many turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the physical and emotional pain they’ve experienced.
But often they are shuffled through the system like every other law breaker. While it’s true, they perhaps shouldn’t be given “special” treatment, if more targeted programs would assist them in transitioning and in avoiding police contact, those programs should be utilized.
According to the Oregonian article,
Around the country, including Oregon, veterans’ advocates are pushing such initiatives as veterans courts and veterans dockets to steer them into substance abuse treatment or other programs instead of prison. Clark County has such a court. So does Klamath County, which was the first in Oregon when it launched in November 2010. Lane County followed suit, and Marion County has a veterans docket.
The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs reportedly tracks incarcerated vets, catching them when they are released and ensuring they get the medical support and family benefits returned to them right away. But, they are little help to those currently caught up in the system.
A spokesperson for the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America says the recidivism rate for vets is fairly low when compared with other offenders, and this could be, in part, due to the supports that exist after a vet is released from the system.
But, upon entry into the system, veterans need an advocate looking out for their best interest and working to minimize any further damage on their life.
Whether you are accused of a drug possession crime or a DUI, our attorneys may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and your legal options.