The purpose of this study was to better understand the various veterans treatment court (VTC) program approaches, populations served, participant substance misuse and mental health needs, and basic program and participant outcomes.
VTCs are a type of problem-solving court with programs and services tailored to persons with a history of military service who become involved in the criminal justice system. The purpose of the VTC is to address participants’ unique needs and the underlying causes of their criminal behavior through services and treatment tailored to identified needs. There are currently just over 600 VTCs and veteran-focused court programs operating in most U.S. states. The current study is exploratory in its examination of a convenience sample of eight VTC programs in three states (Florida, North Carolina, and Texas) between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 3019. Study sites were selected because of their differences in caseload, length of operation, eligibility and admission requirements, treatments and services provided, and county demographics. The study triangulated information collected through program document review, researcher observation and survey, participant interviews, and VTC team member surveys across the eight sites, as well as data from archival records on participant characteristics and program status provided by seven of the VTCs. Results show both variabilities and similarities across programs. Across all eight VTCs, team members included the following roles: judge, prosecution, defense counsel, probation, court coordinator, and Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO). Results show both variabilities and similarities across programs. Although all programs used incentives and sanctions, issues reported related to the implementation of sanctions in a graduated or consistent manner. Across all sites, the majority of participants were required to participate in random drug and alcohol testing (90 percent), mental health treatment (73 percent), and substance abuse treatment (72 percent.) as a condition of their VTC participation. Slightly less than half reported having to plead guilty to in an offense to enter the program. The majority of participants were male and White, with average age between 37 and 46 years old. The majority of those interviewed were veterans of the Army and recent conflicts. The majority of mental health issues reported were aggression, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Extensive tables, figures, and references
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