Veterans Treatment Court
Veterans Treatment Court Update in New Castle County
Superior Court's Veterans Treatment Court in New Castle County is now presided over by Commissioner Bradley Manning. Commissioner Manning served in the U.S. Army and the Army Reserve from 1991-2006 attaining the rank of Captain.
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) previosuly presided 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.
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. View Article
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.
Veterans Administration Attend Kent County Veterans Court
On December 2, 2011 Kent County Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. hosted a delegation of Veterans Administration officers and specialists to view the Kent County Veterans Court in action. The delegation represented many states including Massachusetts, Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas.
Although there are Veterans Courts in other states, Delaware is the first statewide program and the first to combine both diversion and probation into the one program.
During the day, the group attended a pre-court multi-agency team session, a Veterans Court session, and a Veterans Court graduation.
The graduates receive a memento from Judge Witham and the program to honor and remind them of their achievement in successfully completing the demanding Veterans Court Program.
Among the attendees was Ralph Zaccheo, Administrative Officer, Lowell, MA; Samantha Loving, Psychiatry, Richmond, VA; Sharon Crowder, National CWT Specialist, Dallas, TX; Donna Tasker, National CWT Specialist, Biloxi, MS; Charles Quesenberry, Public Affairs Officer, Wilmington, DE; Mike Merrill, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Wilmington, DE; and David Honaker, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Wilmington, DE.
Veterans Treatment Court
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.