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.”