Veterans court offers treatment instead of jail (NECN.com) — Floyd County is the latest Indiana county to establish a veterans court, whose mission is to treat veterans whose crimes stem from substance abuse and mental health issues related to their combat experience. Several other counties, including Porter and Vanderburgh, have courts in place or are planning them. Floyd County Superior Court No. 3 Judge Maria Granger, who started planning the court last year, told the News and Tribune ( that the court isn’t a good fit for every veteran. Only nonviolent offenders are eligible, and even they must meet certain criteria. “It’s not a free pass; it’s tough,” said Granger, the court’s administrator. “It’s a volunteer program and they have to admit to the crime and be honest. It’s not easy. They must follow through with treatment, and some aren’t ready for that yet.” Veterans courts have sprung up across the country since the first one began in Buffalo, N.Y., in January 2008. The courts are modeled after the nation’s drug courts, which are meant to keep low-level drug offenders out of overcrowded prisons. Granger said a team including the prosecutor and judge determine whether a veteran is eligible based on criminal history, individual need and risk. Those who qualify are offered treatment in lieu of prison and can have their charges dropped or receive an alternative sentence if they complete the program successfully. The teams and offenders meet
weekly, and the offenders are mentored by other veterans as part of their treatment, which typically lasts a year, Granger said.