How Do You Keep Veterans Out of Jail?


A judge in Buffalo, NY has instituted something that’s the first of its kind—a veterans’ treatment court. From CNN:

“They look to the right or to the left, they’re sitting there with another vet,” [Judge] Russell said, “and it’s a more calming, therapeutic environment. Rather than them being of the belief that ‘people don’t really understand me,’ or ‘they don’t know what it’s like’—well, it’s a room full of folks who do.”

If the veterans adhere to a demanding 1- to 2-year regimen of weekly to monthly court appearances, drug testing, and counseling, they could see their charges dismissed, or at least stay out of jail.

After counting 300 veterans in the local courts last year, the judge tailor-made the treatment court to address not only vets’ crimes but their unique mental health issues.

A substance abuse counselor from the VA is in the court room with a laptop loaded with the defendant’s health records, ready to hook him or her up with available programs and track their progress. As a great side benefit, perhaps this will help accelerate our society’s consideration of treatment, rather than punishment, for others from less “deserving” groups who offend non-violently.

Not bad. What is bad, however, is three hundred returning soldiers revolving through that one court alone; what an epidemic we’re facing as the war on terror continues.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.