Thirty-three percent of people who are arrested end up back in jail and when it comes to veterans, the State Attorneys Office hopes to lower that number.
A new diversion court system is helping veterans who have a run in with the law.
“The court is for veterans with service-related or combat-related injuries that have either substance abuse disorders or mental health disorders,” said Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.
The Veterans Treatment Court offers veterans a different option than jail.
The 14th Judicial Circuit created the program after one in Okaloosa County.
Basford said, “they will be given intensive treatment and rehabilitation and an opportunity to use the tools that are provided in that court to help them be successful and not re-offend.”
The treatments are at least 12 to 18 months but can be longer depending on the needs of the veteran.
Basford says there are some restrictions though on what veterans can take part. “If they’ve committed violent felonies. For instance, rape, robbery, murder, those type of people would not be eligible to veteran treatments court.”
If approved for the court those who have misdemeanors or nonviolent third-degree offenses will receive supervised treatments and Basford says, the funds are not coming out of state taxpayers wallet.
“The treatment for the veterans that are in veterans treatments court will be paid by the federal government.”
Basford says the system accepted its first veteran on March 8th and hope to have at least 30 veterans utilizing the programs at one time.
The veterans treatment court is available in all six of the counties that make up the 14th Judicial Circuit. That includes Bay, Jackson, Holmes, Washington, Calhoun, and Gulf counties.
Basford says the program is in need of mentors. If you are interested, email the VTC Coordinator, Shonta Covington, at firstname.lastname@example.org.