Ensuring Universal Access to High-Quality Veterans Treatment Courts
May 2, 2018
Outside New York State
While most veterans adjust to civilian life without major difficulties, some do experience challenges reintegrating into their homes and communities.
Compared with similar individuals in the general population, veterans are 8 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 2–4 times more likely to have major depression. Several studies have shown an increased risk of criminal behavior for veterans with substance use issues, PTSD, and depression, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports 181,500 veterans are in jails and prisons in the United States, comprising about 8% of the incarcerated population. To address the unique needs of justice-involved veterans, Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) were developed as an alternative to incarceration for veterans who have committed low-level crimes and have mental health or substance use issues—offering a second chance by providing them with the treatment they need while allowing them to stay in their own communities. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded Justice For Vets (under the auspices of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals) a grant to create a universal plan for ensuring that every eligible veteran in New York State has access to a high-quality, high-performing VTC.
Under this grant, Justice For Vets will form and facilitate a workgroup of stakeholders, including the New York State Unified Court System, Veterans Justice Outreach centers, VTC representatives, New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, State legislative leadership, and law enforcement/district attorneys. The workgroup will identify and forge agreement on key issues pertaining to VTCs, such as eligibility requirements, standards for operations, transfer policies, peer mentoring, and State funding requirements. The workgroup will develop a universal access plan for New York State that outlines recommendations for a high-quality, high-performing statewide VTC system to be shared with policymakers and other stakeholders.
See an NYSHealth-produced policy brief that examines the progress of VTCs in New York State and lays out a roadmap for expanding them across the State and nationally.