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18th Judicial District celebrates first graduates of Veterans Treatment Court

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Four military veterans will be the first to graduate from an intensive court program in the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties) designed to provide treatment and serve as an alternative to incarceration for eligible veterans.

Immediately after the Veterans Treatment Court’s 10 a.m. docket on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, the graduates will join probation officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others involved in the court to celebrate in the jury assembly room at the Arapahoe County Justice Center, 7325 S. Potomac Street in Centennial. The docket will be heard in Courtroom 14 of Courthouse Two at 7305 S. Potomac Street.

“We appreciate and respect the sacrifices that our veterans have made to ensure our nation’s freedom and safety,” said District Court Judge Bonnie McLean, who presides over the Veterans Treatment Court. “We also recognize that military service comes with a cost, one that unfortunately leaves some of our veterans battling addiction, mental illness and involvement in the criminal justice system. Our Veterans Treatment Court was founded on the premise that our veterans deserve treatment for addiction and mental illness, access to resources, and support from the community.”

Like other problem-solving courts around the country, the Veterans Treatment Court ensures community safety while ensuring participants are accountable for their actions and gain the treatment needed to help rebuild their lives.

Participants in the voluntary program agree to actively engage in treatment and counseling, make regular court appearances, and are intensively supervised.

“Problem-solving courts like the Veterans Treatment Court have time and again to be very effective at providing treatment for addiction and mental illness. As such, they constitute a successful means of ensuring the safety of our community,” said 18th Judicial District Chief Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. “Additionally, problem-solving courts like the Veterans Treatment Court are a viable alternative to prison and assist in addressing budget limitations and overcrowding issues. We are proud to be able to give something back to those who have unselfishly served our country and valiantly fought for our freedoms.”

Eligible military veterans with trauma spectrum disorders and/or substance abuse issues may be moved to the Veterans Treatment Court based on decisions made by a team including personnel from the 18th Judicial District courts and Probation Department, prosecutors, public defenders, local law enforcement, treatment professionals and others.

The program, which now has 21 participants, began in March 2013.

It is one of nearly 80 problem-solving courts operating in Colorado, including adult and juvenile drug courts, family/dependency-and-neglect drug courts, DUI courts, adult and juvenile mental health courts, veteran trauma courts, and truancy courts.

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