At the National Association of Drug court Professionals (NADCP) Board Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, there was a good deal of discussion regarding the future of Veteran’s Court. One informal suggestion made was that a Veteran’s Court that focused on returning offenders from prison would be an appropriate expansion of the Veteran’s court concept. There are as many as 80 Veteran’s courts across the country and those that I am aware of, work with offenders are relatively recently separated from the military, who are new to the criminal justice system, with new offenses that are often dealt with through a diversionary court.
With the continued success and popularity of the Veteran’s Court, it would seem most appropriate to consider working with those who have had long histories in the criminal justice system, many of them veterans of the Vietnam era. Those with prison terms who are returning to the community or are to be released into the society clearly deserve the same degree of appreciation and consideration as more recent veterans receive in Veteran’s Courts
I have seen various statistics on the number of veterans in prison, the most widely quoted suggests that 10% of those in prison nationally are veterans (though I can not vouch for that). I have seen reliable statistics showing that there are over 2 million veterans living in California alone. For example, I would hope that California jurisdictions who are in the process of realignment, take a look at how those veterans imprisoned and released on parole in their jurisdiction are faring and investigate how we can best serve this deserving population as they return to their communities. A Veteran’s Reentry Court may be part of the answer.