Shapiro

Springfield Sun - - NEWS -

be­lieve in prob­lem solv­ing courts and know how crit­i­cal they are in our jus­tice sys­tem and I be­lieve in you.”

Estab­lished in April 2011, the vet­er­ans’ treat­ment court ad­dresses the needs of vet­er­ans cycling through the court and prison sys­tem. Judge Todd D. Eisen­berg, who cur­rently pre­sides over vet­er­ans’ treat­ment court, held a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony on Mon­day for four vet­er­ans who com­pleted the pro­gram.

“This is an ex­cit­ing day here in vet­er­ans’ treat­ment court,” said Eisen­berg, who also was joined by re­cently Re­tired Judge Wil­liam J. Furber Jr., who helped spear­head the development of the spe­cialty court.

The vet­er­ans’ treat­ment court is a col­lab­o­ra­tion of the county ju­di­cial sys­tem, the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice, the pub­lic de­fender, the county jail, the adult pro­ba­tion of­fice, com­mu­nity-based treat­ment providers and county and fed­eral de­part­ments of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.

Shapiro said Penn­syl­va­nia has 872,000 vet­er­ans, the fourth high­est to­tal in the U.S., and about 20 vet­er­ans’ treat­ment courts. He said one of his goals is to have more prob­lem-solv­ing courts avail­able in all 67 coun­ties in the state.

“These prob­lem-solv­ing courts work,” said Shapiro, char­ac­ter­iz­ing them as “a smart on crime ap­proach.”

Of­fi­cials have said the spe­cialty court has the goals of en­hanc­ing pub­lic safety and re­duc­ing re­cidi­vism rates among vet­er­ans who are charged with crimes. Un­der the pro­gram, vet­er­ans are con­nected with com­mu­nity treat­ment ser­vices through the U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs while re­ceiv­ing ap­pro­pri­ate dis­po­si­tions to their crim­i­nal charges.

The pro­gram, of­fi­cials said, de­creases time spent in jail by mov­ing of­fend­ers ex­pe­di­tiously into ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment set­tings, pro­motes em­ploy­ment among the of­fend­ers and helps vet­eran de­fen­dants be­come pro­duc­tive mem­bers of their com­mu­ni­ties.

To be el­i­gi­ble, a vet­eran must suf­fer from trau­matic brain in­jury, post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, mil­i­tary sex­ual trauma or psy­cho­log­i­cal or sub­stance abuse prob­lems that re­quire treat­ment and which con­trib­uted to their crimes.

“We know these is­sues can have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on vet­er­ans when they come home,” Shapiro said.

El­i­gi­ble of­fend­ers must agree to fol­low a court ap­proved treat­ment plan and rou­tinely meet with pro­ba­tion of­fi­cials and the judge. When of­fend­ers are re­leased from the court or prison sys­tem, Vet­er­ans Af­fairs of­fi­cials are avail­able to as­sist them.

“Know that I’m as com­mit­ted to you as you are to your­self and your com­mu­nity,” Shapiro ad­dressed the vet­er­ans. “I wish you all the very best. We’re here for you.”

Josh Shapiro

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