Clark County Veterans Therapeutic CourtJudge Darvin J. Zimmerman, Founding Judge of Veterans Court
The Veterans Court will assist those who have faced challenges in addressing combat-related trauma, and as a result, have entered the criminal justice system for low-level offenses. Approximately 1.7 million American troops have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and one in five has returned with a mental health issue, the Department of Defense has estimated. Approximately half of those affected have sought help, and about half of them have received suitable care. War-related illnesses can contribute to escalated suicide attempts, arrests, incarceration, divorce, domestic violence, homelessness and despair. The court’s specialized treatment program will meet the particular needs of these veterans.
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>>Veterans Court Brochure
Clark County District Court has received a $350,000, three-year federal grant for a new Veterans Therapeutic Court. It will be the fourth such court in Washington and joins over 40 similar courts nationwide totaling seven therapeutic specialty courts in Clark County!
- Clark County = estimated 38,700 veterans and counting.
- 540 Veterans in our jail from April 2008 - December 2010. (89% admitted to having a substance abuse problem)
- The cost to house one offender in jail is approx $76/day
The Department of Justice grant will allow the court to serve 50 veterans. To be eligible, a veteran must be charged with a misdemeanor crime in Clark County. He or she must have received a general or honorable discharge, live in Clark County, have a substance abuse and/or mental health disorder and want treatment for it. The veteran must plead guilty to the charge, but instead of going to jail*, he or she will receive intense supervision and court-ordered treatment for a minimum of 12 months (*defendants must serve all mandatory jail sentences for a select few crimes such as Driving While Under the Influence).
The program aims to, through education, treatment, monitoring and counseling, reduce the chance the veteran would offend in the future. This court also employs a Vet-to-Vet Peer Mentoring component that helps coach, guide and assist the veterans to navigate through both V A and court systems as only a vet can relate to a vet.
"We have a long and successful history of operating therapeutic courts in Clark County, and I can't think of a more deserving group to help than those who have served our country."
~ Judge Darvin Zimmerman