An empty jury box. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/METRO
The state Trial Court, working with the city of Boston, plans to increase programs to provide substance abuse and mental health treatment for veterans while working to create a specialized "Veterans Court."
Mayor Thomas Menino's office recently announced the efforts to assist veterans who become involved in the court system, saying that traditional court sentences fail to address the underlying conditions of a veteran's criminal conduct and provide another obstacle to obtaining employment and housing.
The city and Trail Court will fund the training of personnel and offer court programs that provide treatment for Boston-area veterans suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues. The city said pilot programs in other states and elsewhere in Massachusetts have been successful and have cut recidivism rates.
Also, a special veterans court will be created in Boston to see if it can work on a permanent basis.
Menino said the traditional means of dealing with a veteran's afflictions and court involvement are "inappropriate and unproductive."
The city's head lawyer and a former Marine, Bill Sinnott, said there needs to be a different way of aiding veterans through the court system.
"We need a different model for these wounded warriors, one that focuses on restorative justice and rehabilitation," Sinnott said in a statement.