Arguably, the goal of diverting traumatized or mentally ill veterans from the justice system has wide bipartisan support. Recently Denton County, a conservative bastion, opened its own veterans court, according to the Denton Record Chronicle ("Court program offers new path for veterans," Nov. 11):
For some combat veterans, trauma — mental or physical — is part of their service to our country. Such stress and turmoil can lead some to drinking or other abusive behaviors, and the accompanying run-ins with the law.County officials see another solution.The Denton County Veterans Treatment Court Program, approved by commissioners in 2009, is finally starting to become active, county officials said.Denton County’s program is modeled after a successful program in Tarrant County led by Judge Brent Carr and is designed as a collaborative process between the court, defense counsel and prosecutors to treat combat-related mental illnesses that lead to the veteran’s criminal behavior.“If the veteran successfully completes the program, his or her case will be dismissed by the district attorney’s office — essentially their record will be expunged,” First Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck said.
Of the crimes committed by program participants, the majority will be drug- and alcohol-related, with some possible violence charges, she said.“There will have to be consent by the victim for this to happen, and we only take a handful of cases — there is a very rigorous screening process they have to go through,” said County Criminal Court No. 3 Judge David Garcia, who will be hearing the cases.