Detroit’s Veterans Court aims to rehabilitate vets accused of nonviolent crimes, especially those with alcohol and drug problems. Instead of jailing them, the court works at getting them help, says the Detroit News. The court is one of four in southeastern Michigan set up to handle nonviolent vets. Since the first veterans court was established in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2008, 120 such diversionary programs have been opened in 35 states, and more are on the way. Judges expect an influx of cases as more troops return home from Afghanistan.
Jason Daniels, 47, formerly in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the program this month and wants to help others. “(Veterans) have more problems than the average person,” he says. Arrested for drinking and driving, Daniels could have been slapped with jail time and stiffer fines. Instead, he agreed to go into counseling, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and participate in regular court sessions through the program. “I learned how to direct my energy and feelings through Veterans Court,” he says. In the program, which usually lasts 18 months, veterans are required to attend alcohol or substance abuse counseling and undergo mandatory drug testing. Some might be required to wear a tether to monitor possible alcohol use. Once the veteran has successfully completed the program, follow-up programs are available through the Veterans Administration. Some 81 percent of veterans who had contact with police or a court officer had a substance abuse problem before their incarceration.