Monday, January 26, 2009

Veterans-only Court

There is discussion about creating a veterans-only court in Hamilton County.

A veterans court would:

Free up beds at the jail that could be used for inmates charged with more violent crimes.

In the first six months of 2008, Hamilton County took in 23,009 inmates. Of those, 1,125 - or 4.9 percent - were veterans and more than half of them had substance abuse or mental health issues or both.

The issue is particularly timely as Hamilton County just closed one of its jails and lost 800 beds.

Create a process to get jailed veterans the federally funded benefits due them.

Many of the people who first enlisted in 2001-02 are coming off of their second enlistment and perhaps their fourth or fifth rotation to Iraq. All of this means more veterans will be joining the civilian population, many with physical as well as mental health problems.

The veterans-only court not only is a service to the veteran but also to the community. Too often veterans find their way into correctional institutions when what they really need is help. The proposal makes sense both from a safety and security point of view as well as the debt society owes these men and women who served their country.

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