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Yet Another State Is Pushing To Bring Back Special Courts For Veterans
Veterans accused of crimes often share similar trauma from their time in the service.
Post-traumatic stress disorder. Military sexual assault. Brain injuries.
Special courts are gaining traction nationwide to help these veterans avoid being repeatedly arrested by combining treatment with accountability.
That’s why Benton Country, Washington, prosecutor Andy Miller and a team of court officials and veterans advocates plan to ask county commissioners to tap a public safety fund to recreate Spokane County’s Veterans Treatment Court in Benton and possibly Franklin counties.
The courts — which take up nonviolent misdemeanor cases — work like other treatment-based courts used in Benton and Franklin counties by focusing on specific types of offenders with common issues.
The approach could help military veterans avoid losing their families and jobs if they’re charged. The Benton County jail already handles about 40 veterans a week, and the U.S. Veterans Administration reports about 3,000 homeless veterans in the Mid-Columbia.
Advocates say they build community among veterans and help them tackle issues unique among those who have served.
Eric Andrews, a civil deputy in Miller’s office, says the special courts are needed and they work. He’s an 11-year Navy veteran who previously worked in the Spokane program.
In that model, current and former military service personnel charged with crimes such as drunk driving, domestic violence, and petty theft are eligible to have their cases diverted to the veterans court.
The court can require defendants to participate in veteran-oriented treatment programs and comply with other orders. Cases would be heard by District Court Judge Dan Kathren.
However, it would focus on the root causes of veteran crime, such as PTSD, sexual assault, brain injuries and other issues.
Spokane marries its judicial system with a unique nonprofit called the Spokane Veterans Forum. The forum is a community of veterans that provides mentors and friendship to veterans charged with crimes.
The Benton County model will include a similar approach. Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant and Pasco city prosecutor Jim Bell have participated in the work sessions, signaling possible interest on the north side of the Columbia River.
Miller wants to tap the $14 million to $16 million Benton County has banked thanks to a 2014 voter-approved public safety sales tax intended to support law enforcement, courts, and crime-fighting initiatives.
The 0.3 percent sales tax supports 35 law enforcement officers, mental and drug courts, and other activities.
But it’s not being fully spent.
The county commission is soliciting proposals from county agencies with a public safety focus and, separately, from outside nonprofits that run gang and crime prevention programs.
April 20 is the application deadline for nonprofits.
Money won’t be available until 2019.
Treating veterans with respect while requiring treatment works, said Jerry Gutman, who oversees mentor programs in Spokane. The recidivism rate for veterans court defendants fell to between 12 percent and 14 percent in the past three years.
“What is making this happen is veteran-to-veteran connections,” he said.
Andrews said it’s common to see defendants from Spokane’s court return as mentors and to give back to the community, much the way they served their country.
“You just see what an impact this has on people’s lives, to make them whole again,” Andrews said. “I can’t think of a better way to repay a service member for what our country has asked us to do.”
©2018 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."