The Twelfth Judicial Veterans Treatment Court is a court-supervised program coupled with intensive treatment and supervision for high risk-high need criminal offenders.
Thank you to all our military personnel for the sacrifices you have made for our freedom.
The first Veterans Treatment Court was founded by the Honorable Robert Russell in Buffalo, New York in January, 2008, after he noticed an increase in the number of veterans appearing on his Drug Court and Mental Health Court dockets. Judge Russell saw firsthand the transformative power of military camaraderie when veterans on his staff assisted a veteran in one of his treatment courts, but also recognized that more could be done to ensure veterans were connected to benefits and treatment earned through military service. In response, Judge Russell asked his local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and volunteer veterans in the community to join in creating a new court docket that would focus exclusively on justice-involved veterans.
Veterans Treatment Courts allow jurisdictions to serve a large segment of the justice-involved veteran population as opposed to business as usual – having all veterans appear before random judges who may or may not have an understanding of their unique problems. Because a Veterans Treatment Court judge handles numerous veterans' cases and is supported by a strong, interdisciplinary team, he or she is in a much better position to exercise discretion and effectively respond than a judge who only occasionally hears a case involving a veteran defendant. A Veterans Treatment Court judge better understands the issues that a veteran may be struggling with, such as substance addiction, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and military sexual trauma. A Veterans Treatment Court judge is also more familiar with the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefit Administration, State Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Organizations, and volunteer Veteran Mentors and how they all can assist veteran defendants.
The Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s Veterans Treatment Courts have been developed with a similar philosophy in order to help veterans who are in the criminal justice system address various issues associated with veterans and those veterans return to the broader society. Our Veterans Treatment Courts provide judicial supervision while giving veterans an opportunity to receive treatment for many life’s issues that are specific to the veteran population. In essence, the Veterans Treatment Court programs are designed to help veterans successfully navigate the criminal justice system while connecting them to the appropriate support services in order to help restore veterans to their rightful place in society.
The Twelfth Judicial Veterans Treatment Court is only for veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States. The Twelfth Judicial VTC is a court-supervised program coupled with intensive treatment and supervision for high risk-high need criminal offenders. The Twelfth Judicial VTC is designed for Veterans who have substance abuse, mental health, or problems adjusting to civilian life and have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime.
Successful completion of the VTC program may result in the reduction or dismissal of charges against defendants entering the program through Pre-Trial Intervention.
For defendants entering the VTC as a condition of probation (post-plea VTC), successful completion may result in adjudication being withheld and/or a reduced length of probation.
All participants are required to make monthly court appearances for judicial review. Treatment may involve drug and alcohol treatment, random drug testing, support group meetings, vocational, job, and education referrals, and community supervision. The Twelfth Judicial VTC program is a four phase program designed to be completed in 1 year, but your length in the program may vary depending upon your circumstances and may take up to 24 months. Our goal is for you to be successful.
The treatment-based approach begins with an assessment to determine the best method of treatment for each veteran. The results of this assessment will be shared with the court in order to ensure adequate services are provided.
The Court will offer eligible defendants an opportunity to participate in the program. Persons who choose not to participate will have their cases returned to the regular criminal docket. Defendants who voluntarily enter the Veteran’s Court will be referred to the appropriate service provider to ensure all needs are met.
Participants are encouraged to obtain and maintain lawful employment, seek job skills training, or educational enhancement, i.e. GED, college degree, etc. Participation in such activities may be substituted for other program activities.
Participants are encouraged to establish and maintain a self-support group to assist them after they have completed treatment.
Frequent judicial review hearings enable the Court and the VTC team to closely monitor a participant’s progress in treatment and the results of drug screening. Participants report directly to the VTC judge. Based on success or setbacks, the judge either rewards compliance or sanctions non-compliance.
Rewards may include verbal praise in open court, incentives, A & B Team, less frequent court appearances, phase advancement, and, achieving early termination of probation.
A participant who fails to comply with the treatment program rules of VTC will be sanctioned. Sanctions may include but are not limited to: court reprimand, increased drug testing, incarceration, extension of program participation or removal from VTC.
The Veterans Treatment Court Team will give final approval, but the following criteria must be met in order to be considered for the program.