To offer justice involved veterans with mental health and or substance use disorders an alternative to the traditional criminal justice process by providing frequent judicial oversight, intensive supervision and treatment intervention to positively impact their lifestyle and enhance community safely.
A Veterans Court is a problem solving court designed for U.S. military veterans charged with felony offenses and struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders. The Court promotes sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with the traditional partners found in problem solving courts, with the addition of the U.S. department of Veterans Affairs Health Care networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, volunteer veteran mentors and veterans and veterans’ family support organizations.
The St. Louis County Veterans Court is a voluntary 15-18 month program. Following the 10-Key Components of Veterans Courts, the Circuit Judge leads the multi-disciplinary team of professionals who meet on a regular basis to collaboratively assist the veteran with an array of services such as emergency financial assistance, chemical dependency and mental health/trauma counseling, employment and skills training assistance, temporary housing, advocacy and other referral services and services of the veterans involved in the program.
At regular judicial status hearing treatment plans and other conditions are reviewed, incentives are offered to reward adherence to court conditions and sanctions for non-compliance are handed down.
Defendants, who voluntarily agree to participate and meet the eligibility requirements, may enter the Veteran’s Court after plea or finding and pre sentence.
•Must have served in the U.S. Military
•Non-disciplinary discharge from the military
•Adult – 18 years of age or over
•Resident of St. Louis County (team may waive residency requirement)
•Charged with felony level offense. (non-violent)
•Experiencing a treatable behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse problem substantially related to the offense
•Consent of the prosecuting attorney for referral to the Veterans Court
•Defendant is willing to participate Final determination of admission will be made by the VTC Judge based upon recommendations from the prosecuting attorney and other veteran’s court team members.
•A referral form and acceptance contract are sent to prosecuting attorney (PA) and Veterans Court Administrator (VCA) for initial screening.
•If qualified by PA the applicant is screened by Probation and Parole and VA.
•If applicant meets initial screening the Veterans court team meets to decide if the applicant meets its qualifications. If so, the applicant will be noticed by the VCA to set up an appointment to discuss the program and fill out paperwork. At this time the applicant will receive a court handbook, and other materials needed to enter the veterans court.
•The applicant attends the next Veterans Court hearing and is formally accepted into the program as a participant.
•The participant will meet their Veterans Court case manager on a regular basis between court sessions to develop, and maintain plans to ensure steady and measured progression to graduation.
Upon graduation of the Veterans Court program, participants are given a certificate of completion. Depending on the sentencing option used by the court, some cases are either dismissed or reduced. Probationers may be placed on administrative probation and may be subject to minimal requirements.
The Veterans Court staffing team meets at 1:30 pm on the second and forth Wednesday of every month and court is held at 3 pm in Division 6 in the St. Louis County Courts building at 105 S. Central Avenue, Clayton, Mo. 63105
•Reduce contacts with the criminal justice system
•Increase compliance with treatment and other court ordered conditions
•Improve access to VA benefits and services
•Improve family relationships and social support connections
•Introduce participants to an ongoing process of recovery to achieve and maintain life stability
•One-on-one judicial supervision
•Ready access to County Veterans Services and VA services
•Intensive probation supervision
•Substance abuse, mental health, Family and other counseling
•Random drug and alcohol testing
•Mediation monitoring and social services
•Employment and housing assistance
•Volunteer Peer Mentoring
Volunteer Mentors are themselves veterans who agree to act as a coach, guide, role model, advocate and a supportive person for the participant as they progress through the veteran’s court process. Experience in other courts has shown that the veterans are likely to respond more favorable to another veteran rather than someone who did not have similar experiences. By partnering each participant with a mentor of similar military background, it is anticipated that this active support relationship will increase the likelihood that the veteran will remain in treatment and improve his or her chances of sobriety and law abiding behavior.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor and assist the veteran’s court participants, pleas contact the St. Louis County Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator. Basic eligibility requirements and commitment is:
•Be a veteran of one of the branches of the U.S. Military
•Complete the screening process
•Complete initial mentor training
•Adhere to the Courts policies and procedures
•9 month minimum commitment to mentor
•Attend court sessions
•U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
•St. Louis County
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
•State of Missouri Probation and Parole
•St. Louis County Police