The Salt Lake City Tribune did a nice job covering a new Court and tells the story of a particular Veteran who is typical of many returning Veterans who have problems adjusting to life outside of the military. Many of these Veterans who suffer from PTSD become alcoholic and fall into a cycle of criminal behavior. The City is to be commended for this progressive program since Veterans have backgrounds that are very unique compared to many others who are in the criminal justice system. Veterans in Utah and across the Country could benefit from such a court. Its estimated that 1/5th of returning Veterans struggle with Alcohol and Drug problems but of course the reasons for this are different that the typical criminal defendant. The new program will be designed for Veterans who have not committed a violent crime and will be a way for the criminal justice system to reliably track Veterans in the system. Salt Lake City Prosecutor and candidate for County Attorney General Sim Gill, has started another progressive program that will allow Veterans to have their sentences reduced if they enroll in treatment at the Dept of Veterans Affairs. Another important advocate of the program is Federal Judge Paul Warner who will refer Veterans in the federal system to the program. Also it seems that the Salt Lake County jail will now at least inquire if a particular inmate is a Veteran so that help could potentially be provided–although incarcerated Veterans aren’t technically eligible for VA services. Another goal is to increase training to law enforcement officials to deal with Veterans who may suffer from PTSD. Hopefully this program will be expanded across the state.
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