A court specially designed for veterans who committed non-violent crimes may debut soon in Portland, Ore.
According to The Oregonian, legal officials at the Multnomah County Circuit Court have been working on creating a veterans court for those with substance abuse and mental illness disorders. Judge Julie E. Frantz, who headed the program's committee, told county officials this week that the veterans court was "ready to launch." However, it still needs approval from the county commissioners.
The proposed veterans court will work in a similar way to treatment courts used for substance abusers, steering veterans away from jail or prison time and instead providing them with treatment, counseling and other services, the news source reported. However, they will still be on probation.
"It's an initiative that invests in upfront prevention to get people on the right track, that's not only going to strengthen the individual, but their family and their community,'' Cameron Smith, director of Oregon's Department of Veterans' Affairs, told the news outlet.
Although veterans treatment courts were just established in 2008, there are currently around 130 of these courts in the U.S., The Associated Press reported. The most recent data on veterans in prison is from 2004, when the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 10 percent of state prisoners reported having previous military experience.