Specializing in Our Veterans
In June 2017, Contra Costa Superior Court was awarded a three-year grant of $368,000 through the Judicial Council’s Innovations Grant Program to implement a specialty Veterans Treatment Court in Contra Costa County.In June 2017, Contra Costa Superior Court was awarded a three-year grant of $368,000 through the Judicial Council’s Innovations Grant Program to implement a specialty Veterans Treatment Court in Contra Costa County.
A Veterans Treatment Court is a collaborative court intended to serve veterans who are involved with the justice system and whose court cases are affected by issues such as sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems relating to service in the United States military. The goal of this specialty court is to help participants avoid recidivism by addressing the root causes of their behaviors and reintegrating them into their communities with support.
These courts promote treatment, sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving cooperation and collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office, Criminal Defense, the Probation Department, the county Veterans Service Office, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CDVA), healthcare networks, employment and housing agencies, community based organizations, volunteer mentors who are also veterans, and family support organizations.
Services provided in the Veterans Treatment Court include one-on-one judicial supervision, group evaluation by the collaborative team, probation supervision, employment and housing assistance, treatment and medication monitoring, counseling and mentoring. A Veterans Treatment Court can help veterans involved in the criminal justice system reclaim their lives and repair the collateral damage to their families caused by their service connected sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or other mental health problems.In various jurisdictions throughout the country, Veterans Treatment Courts have been shown to:
- Reduce recidivism
- Increase participant sobriety
- Increase compliance with court-ordered treatment and other conditions
- Improve access to VA benefits and services
- Foster improved family relationships and social support connections for veterans
- Improve life stability
The Court, in partnership with our court’s justice partners, the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Contra Costa County Veterans Services Office, and the County Behavioral Health Division, joined to form a Veterans Treatment Advisory Committee. Working together, program conditions, program referral guidelines, program policies and procedures, and a participant handbook were created in less than 45 days. Eight veterans were on calendar in Department 31 for the first court session on August 12th of this year. On September 7th, the number of veteran’s cases on calendar had grown to 23. Prior to the calendar being called, there is a meeting to discuss a veteran’s suitability for the program, their entry into, and progress, in the program.
One unique feature of this program is that each veteran who is accepted into the program, is assigned a veteran mentor. The mentor provides outside support for a struggling veteran and helps to make sure he or she attends the required court sessions, job interviews, probation meetings, and other requirements of the program. In addition, the veteran mentor makes himself or herself available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, as support for the veteran.
The Court will be keeping data on how Contra Costa’s participants progress through the program, which is a minimum of 18 months in duration, working closely with the Judicial Council to meet the goals of this program. This type of specialty court has already demonstrated great success in other Superior Courts in California, such as Sacramento, Santa Clara, Solano, San Mateo and Orange.