Date

1-2012

Degree Name

BA in Interdisciplinary Studies

Department

Continuing Education (CAPSTONE) Department

Advisor(s)

Anika Leithner

Abstract

Veterans’ treatment courts represent an emerging trend across the country of collaborative justice designed to deal with criminal justice issues stemming from problems linked to military service. This approach places the veteran in VA (Veterans Affairs) treatment programs as a diversion from incarceration. There are few such courts in California (nine) largely in non-rural counties. This study investigated two rural counties, Tulare and Santa Barbara with Veterans courts to develop a model for such a court in San Luis Obispo County. Early recidivism data at the one-year point for Tulare County showed a zero percent rate of criminal behavior (12 participants); and no recidivism at three months for Santa Barbara County (16 veterans). Both rural counties have had to rely on VA services in outlying areas given the paucity of nearby VA Medical Centers and clinics. A key observation from both court systems was that Veterans Courts appear to be a “grassroots” phenomenon with counties initiating such courts based on personal commitment to veterans by key stakeholders. The San Luis Obispo County Veterans court core members are veterans led by a Deputy District Attorney who is an Iraq war veteran. Utilizing the two rural courts studied, SLO court will focus on drug crimes and domestic violence, with the exclusion of more serious felonies. The targeted date of implementation is July 1, 2012. The anticipated monetary benefit is reduced court and incarceration costs. A non-monetary benefit is the successful rehabilitation of the veteran.