Effective Implementation of Universal Access to Veterans Treatment Courts
September 28, 2021
Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) provide an alternative to incarceration for eligible veterans struggling with mental health or substance use disorders.
Justice For Vets (under the auspices of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals) played a pivotal role in NYSHealth’s successful efforts to help establish universal access to VTCs in New York State. A newly enacted law authorizes the transfer of cases from jurisdictions without VTCs to adjacent counties with VTCs, as well as the establishment of new VTCs. However, many legal professionals in New York may be unaware of how the new policy can be used to connect justice-involved veterans with VTCs. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded Justice For Vets a grant to support and ensure the sound and effective implementation of the new policy across New York State.
Under this grant, Justice For Vets will educate legal professionals about the recently enacted New York State law and how to apply it so justice-involved veterans can access these courts when needed. It will develop new in-person and virtual VTC trainings for judges, district attorneys, defense attorneys, and other legal professionals on how to best implement the new VTC policy. It will also partner with leading experts in the field to create relevant, timely training content, integrating the perspective of veterans who have graduated from VTCs. Justice For Vets will identify specific training needs both for counties that currently have VTCs and for counties that do not. It will conduct targeted outreach in partnership with key stakeholders, including the New York County Defender Services and District Attorneys Association of New York, to reach legal professionals across the State. Justice For Vets will gather information and feedback from participants at trainings to improve the curriculum and broaden future outreach to veteran-serving organizations. One-on-one technical assistance will be offered to participants after training sessions, as needed.