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Veterans Treatment Court

Veterans Treatment Court
Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Program
Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Application Form
Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Application Form Instructions
Veterans Treatment Court News

Veterans Court Mentor Training
March 5, 2014

Learn how to serve as a volunteer mentor in the Kent County and the New Castle County Veterans Courts.

The program's trainer is Jack O’Connor who is the Coordinator of Volunteer Veterans Mentors for the Buffalo Veterans Court which was the first Veterans Court in the nation.

Location: Delaware State Bar Association
                 405 North King Street, Wilmington, DE 19801

April 16, 2014

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Please RSVP to Kathryn.Wolinski

Email questions to Kathryn.Wolinski

Veterans Treatment Court Expands to New Castle County

Superior Court’s Veterans Treatment Court began in New Castle County on January 2, 2013. Judge Jan R. Jurden, a former member of the armed services (she was honorably discharged as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army after serving in the 32nd Army Air Defense Command in West Germany from 1980 - 1982) will preside over the New Castle County Veterans Court.

This innovative program was initiated by Judge William L. Witham Jr. as a pilot project in Kent County in February 2011.  Judge Witham, also a former member of the armed services, served as an officer for 33 years in the Reserves and Army National Guard and graduated from the United States Army War College in 1998. He also served as the Deputy State Area Commander, as well as the Brigade Commander of the Delaware Army Troop Command, when he retired in 2001.

The program is designed to assist justice-involved veterans with mental health and substance abuse issues to obtain necessary services and reduce recidivism. As a subdivision of the Mental Health Court, the mission of this court is to work with veterans who have been charged with felony or misdemeanor non-violent criminal offense(s) and divert eligible veteran-defendants with substance dependency and/or mental health issues from traditional court processing to a treatment-based problem-solving model court. Veterans are identified through specialized screening and assessments and voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan developed by a team comprised of court staff, veteran health care professionals, veteran peer mentors and other health and mental health care professionals.  Upon admission to the Veterans Treatment Court, the court staff, health care professionals and mentors assist the veteran with an array of stabilization and other services.

I am very proud of the hard work of our court in bringing this most effective program to New Castle County. This expansion will provide greater numbers of justice-involved veterans with the means to address their substance abuse and mental health issues in an effort to create constructive lives and become productive members of our community,” related Superior Court's President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr.

For Veterans Treatment Court information; contact Maureen Frederick at: 302.255.0798.

Judge Witham Co-Authors Veterans Court Article

Judge William L. Witham Jr. is a co-author of an article in a collection of articles published in the 2012 State Defense Force Monograph Series.  Reserve Force Trials, Trauma and Transitions: Examining the Modern Deployed Reserve Force Mental Health Support Needs.  Another Avenue to Treatment: The Veterans Court,  State Defense Force Monograph Series, Spring 2012, Homeland Security, Support for the National Guard and the State, pp. 5-36.

The article relates the success of alternative “problem-solving” courts, in this specific case, the Veterans Mental Health Courts.

In 2011, Delaware established the very first statewide Veterans Court in the country that is both a diversion and probation court. No other court with this expansive capability exists in the United States. The Court has achieved success due to the cooperation of the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the VA and the resource agencies of the State of Delaware.

Delaware Veterans Treatment Court Expands Mentor Program

The Delaware Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Program is a key component of the veterans court. They are part of the strong support team involved in program. The volunteer mentor coordinator assigns a mentor to each of our veterans participating in the court.

The Veterans Court's presiding judge, Resident Judge Witham, himself a veteran, believes that the mentors "are a crucial part of the process."     
View Mentor Program Information & Application >>

Veterans Treatment Court

Veterans Treatment Court
The Veterans Treatment Court mission is to divert veterans, who meet strict requirements, from the traditional criminal justice system and provide them with the tools to lead a productive and law-abiding life.
Studies show that such collaborative courts enhance public safety, cut recidivism and are more cost effective than the typical manner of processing offenders.
            The value of Veterans Treatment Court has already been recognized in other jurisdictions.
In the first Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo, NY, the recidivism rate is under 20%
According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals 70% of the veterans finish the programs, and 75% are not rearrested within two years.

Kent County Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr.
and the Veteran's Treatment Court Team
Superior Court held its first session of its statewide Diversionary Veterans Treatment Court on February 18, 2011 in Kent County. Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. oversees the Veterans Court. View Judge Witham's Veterans Court Opening Comments >>

The Veterans Court involves the Delaware Superior Court, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice, Office of Public Defender and the Treatment Access Center. View Press Release >>

The court is presided over by Superior Court Judge William L. Witham Jr. and will serve veterans throughout the state, including both those charged with new offenses and those charged with violation of probation. It is the first statewide veteran’s court in the nation.

Judge Witham related that, "we anticipate that the court process, along with the treatment options offered by the VA and TASC and the support of the volunteer mentors will provide veterans involved in the criminal justice system with the means to address their problems and to move on to constructive lives in our community.”

Based on the drug and mental health court models, the court will work with veterans referred to it by the Attorney General’s Office or the Office of the Public Defender. Once a referral is made, the veteran is offered the opportunity to participate in the Court on a voluntary basis. If the veteran chooses to participate, the veteran will have his or her charges deferred pending successful completion of a treatment plan, at which time the charges will be dismissed. To reach this point, veterans must comply with court ordered treatment and appear in court for progress assessments on a regular basis. Failure to comply will result in sanctions which can range from an admonishment all the way to termination from the program.

The goal of Veterans Court is to divert veterans with mental illness who are charged with nonviolent felonies and misdemeanor crimes away from jail and into rehabilitative programs. Veterans in the program must attend regular court status conferences, participate in the development of their treatment plans, and engage in community groups as required. After completion of the program, prosecution for the offense will not proceed and the charges will be dismissed.

Stressful combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan do not necessarily end for veterans after they return home. Many return with post-traumatic stress syndrome or other mental health issues. In addition, there may be drug or alcohol abuse caused or exacerbated by their military service. Now home, they may have difficulty with readjustment to civilian life and become involved in criminal activity. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that approximately 10% of adults arrested have served in the military.

Delaware veterans in this situation have the opportunity to participate in a new court that can help address the mental health and addiction issues that led to their involvement in the criminal justice system.

To support veterans through this process, volunteer mentors, who are also veterans, will help the court participants get to appointments and undertake other necessary steps. According to Judge Witham, himself a veteran, “The volunteer mentors are a crucial part of the process because they understand the stresses of military life and can offer necessary understanding, assistance and support through the difficult process of recovery.”

Assistance will also be provided by the Veterans Administration which is providing a coordinator who will determine eligibility for veteran’s benefits and will help them enroll in programs and services needed to comply with court orders and to otherwise get their lives back in order. For those who are determined not to be eligible for Veterans Administration benefits, the Treatment Access Center (TASC) will provide similar treatment services.

Although the court has just begun all of those involved in its development anticipate that it will be a tremendous benefit to both participating veterans and the state as a whole.

MORE On Veterans Treatment Courts >>