"NO SOLDIER LEFT BEHIND"
The first Veterans Court in New England opened
its doors for referrals in the District Court in April 2011. The designated
calendar, which was initially part of a pilot program funded through a SAMHSA
(Federal Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) grant, was
designed to direct veterans, diagnosed with trauma related disorders, into a
court program which integrates support and treatment plans with the judicial
process. It is intended to divert the offenders away from incarceration while
providing appropriate rehabilitative alternatives.
For more information on programs related to the SAMSHA grant that are on the
District Court Pretrial Services webpage, please
Recent statistics indicate close to 1.7 million Americans have served in
Iraq or Afghanistan. While a
significant number, nationwide this is less than one-half of 1% of our national
population. Rhode Island has given
more than its fair share to those statistics.
The call back of our own National Guard is the 2nd highest in the
entire United States. As of
September 30, 2010, the number of veterans living in Rhode Island who served in
the Gulf Wars is three (3) times the national per capita average.
Most of these veterans, amazingly, return home and successfully reintegrate
into the fabric of society. There
is, however, and increasing number of individuals who are not able to
successfully do so. Studies now
indicate that one (1) in three (3) returning will exhibit some symptoms
of mental illness. Of course, not
all of them will wind up in the criminal justice system.
The Rhode Island District Court is in a unique position to take on the
responsibilities of a Veterans Treatment Court as a designated calendar to which
these veterans can be referred. The
District Court is the threshold to our Rhode Island criminal justice system.
Defendants charged with misdemeanors and felonies first appear in District Court
for an arraignment. The District
Court sets bail at the arraignment, sets the conditions of bail, and through the
Pretrial Services Unit, the court monitors the compliance of those conditions.
The District Court has an extensive collaborative network for referrals for
substance, alcohol, and other behavioral issues.
In excess of 40,000 new criminal cases are processed each year in the District
As a problem solving court, the mission of the Veterans Treatment Court is to
successfully rehabilitate participants, on a case-by-case basis, by providing
the tools and skills necessary to address veterans’ unique challenges to
reintegrate successfully into society and to maintain a productive and law
abiding lifestyle within the community.
Goals of the Veterans Treatment Court:
and treat unseen/invisible injuries resulting from combat or other
productive reintegration into community.
compliance with court ordered conditions.
address behavioral health issues.
needs and expectations of maintaining a safe society with appropriate
treatment and rehabilitation.